Covid-19 Information for the Disabled Community


 The Covid-19 pandemic is an evolving situation and DPA are working to ensure that correct information is available for disabled people.

DPA will regularly update this page as new information that is specific to the disabled community is made available. (Last update 15.3.21)


All of New Zealand is now at Alert Level 1.

It is now mandatory to wear face masks/coverings on public transport. This includes: buses, long distance bus trips, trains, most ferries, and domestic flights. Some people are exempt from wearing a face covering and an exemption card is available.

We are also posting new information as it comes to hand to our Facebook page and to Twitter and sending it out in our Information Exchange newsletter. (You can sign up to receive the Information Exchange and/or read our previous Information Exchanges.)

For general information about Covid-19 see the Government website


Information in video format


Also go to Mental Health and Wellbeing for a series of videos about wellbeing




Getting tested for Covid-19

It is recommended that anyone with any of the following symptoms should get assessed:

-fever – this is when you are really hot and have a temperature of 38 degrees or more

-a cough that is new or one that has been getting worse over a few days.

-shortness of breath or finding it hard to breathe

-sore throat sneezing and runny nose temporary loss of smell.

These symptoms are like other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Call your doctor if you are feeling unwell with any one of these symptoms.

You can also call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. This is free and you can call any time as it is open all day every day. Healthline also has access to interpreters if you need one.

Your doctor or Healthline will ask you questions about your symptoms, your general health, and your living situation. Depending on your symptoms and circumstances, you may or may not be tested for Covid-19.

If it is decided you should be tested, you will probably need to go to a special "Community Based Assessment Centre".

Some videos have been made showing what Community Based Assessment Centre's are like:

Pegasus Health video - Testing for Covid-19 at a Community Based Assessment Centre

Bay of Plenty DHB video - The Assessment Centre process

The Ministry of Health has provided more information for disabled people on getting tested for Covid-19, including more about what happens - visit the Ministry of Health website.




More at risk?

Some people are more likely to get very sick if they get Covid-19.

Health problems that make COVID-19 more dangerous include a weak immune system, liver disease, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, pregnant people or those on immunosuppressant medications.
If you have one of these health conditions you need to be extra careful to protect yourself against getting COVID-19. For example, during Alert Level 3 you may need to keep following the Alert Level 4 rules to keep yourself safe.
If you are not sure if you have one of these health conditions, or what activities outside the home might be safe for you given your individual health circumstances, you can call your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for advice.





Updated 31.5.2021

New Zealand has started the roll out of a nationwide Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination programme. 
The rollout plan focuses on prioritising protecting those most at risk of getting the virus or being harmed by it, while also reducing the chance of ongoing spread and future outbreaks.

There are four main groups in the roll out plan (timings will overlap, and dates might shift slightly as the Ministry of Health continues to undertake modelling).

Currently being vaccinated:

Group 1 - Border and MIQ workers, their household contacts and the people they live with
Group 2 – Frontline health and healthcare workers, disabled people and people with underlying health conditions in Counties Manaukau 
Group 3 – Priority populations: People aged 70+, People 65+, People with underlying health conditions or disabilities

Being vaccinated from the end of July:

Group 4 – The rest of the population
Clarification of eligibility criteria for Group 3 of vaccine roll-out

All DHBs have now begun vaccinating people in Group 3. Each DHB around New Zealand is managing the rollout of the vaccine in their area, so exactly how and when people are contacted may differ between regions. To find out more about how the vaccination rollout is being managed in your area see this vaccine rollout information by DHB 

Criteria for eligibility for Group 3 have now been clarified. This includes disabled people:

Disabled people, for the purposes of the COVID-19 vaccination, includes anyone who has an impairment that:
- is expected to last for 6 months or longer, and
- limits your ability to carry out daily activities and/or participate in society on an equal basis to others. This can be due to the interaction of your impairment with societal and environmental barriers such as inaccessibility, rather than caused by the impairment itself.
This includes impairments that are:
- physical
- neurological
- mental/psychiatric
- intellectual
- sensory
- other types of impairment.

People are not required to provide proof of disability, such as a medical certificate. This means you can decide yourself whether you are disabled, using the definition provided.

People with some underlying health conditions are also included in Group 3 including anyone who is eligible for a publicly funded influenza vaccine, people diagnosed with severe mental illness and people who are severely obese (defined as a BMI ≥40)

See the Unite Against Covid-19 website for more information about Group 3 eligibility.
Find out more about the vaccination programme on the website


Vaccines - Easy Read information


Easy Read information about the COVID-19 vaccination has recently been uploaded to the Unite against Covid-19 website:
  • An Easy Read guide to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Simplified Easy Read - Before getting your COVID-19 vaccine
  • Simplified Easy Read - Getting your COVID-19 vaccine
  • Simplified Easy Read - After your COVID-19 vaccine

If you would like paper copies of any of the Easy Read information sheets about the vaccinations, please email

Supported decision-making guidance and tools - Easy Read




Face mask/covering exemptions

-Easy Read information about when you wear a face mask: Easy Read PDF

-Easy Read information about what to do if you cannot wear a face mask: Easy Read PDF

-Watch NZSL video on exemption cards

If you have a disability or health condition and you can’t wear a face covering safely or comfortably, you are exempt from wearing one.

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something official that says they don’t have to wear a face covering, so the Ministry of Health have designed an exemption card that people can print out or save onto their phones.

If anyone asks why you are not wearing a face covering, you can show them the card. You don’t need to show this card to public transport operators like bus drivers, but you can if you want to.  

This card has been developed by the Ministry of Health specifically for those who cannot wear face coverings safely or comfortably due to a disability or health condition. The use of this card is self-regulated and decided upon by the individual. However, the Ministry of Health encourage people to do the right thing and only use this Exemption Card if you need to.

The exemption card can be printed in credit card size, A5 or A4, or simply downloaded onto your phone.

Download the face mask / covering exemption card  (If you have difficulty downloading the PDF, please email

If you would like a physical wallet-sized version of the exemption card sent to you, please email




Mental Health and Wellbeing

Easy Read - Look after your mental health during Coronavirus

Easy Read - COVID-19: information about the 1737 - Need to talk service

It’s completely normal for people to be feeling a wide range of emotions including being worried, anxious, and scared. We are all in this together, and while we might not be able to be physically in touch right now, it’s important to stay connected in other ways- such as by phone and social media.

If you need to talk – call or text 1737 at anytime, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to connect with a professional counsellor for free.

Do continue with any existing mental health treatment you are receiving if possible. Notice if your symptoms are getting worse. Talk to your GP, counsellor, caseworker or mental health team about how they can continue supporting you. Can your appointments take place over the phone, via email, text or video chat? What tips do they have to help you get through? Who can you call if you need help urgently?

The Mental Health Foundation have lots of tips that they are sharing daily on their Facebook page.

DPA are putting out a series of videos on mental health and wellbeing for disabled people. We are uploading these regularly to Facebook and will upload these here as they become available.

  • Video five - Choose your news and info carefully


Other mental health and wellbeing resources: 

- Videos in NZSL on wellbeing website

- Practical tips to help you look after yourself and your whānau Getting Through Together

- Online courses teach you practical strategies to cope with stress

- A Guide to Menstrual Cycles and Mental Health




You can use the Video Interpreting Service or NZ Relay to contact any of the helpline numbers if you need to.



People First NZ COVID-19 Helpline number - 0800 20 60 70


Anxiety NZ -  0800 269 4389

Need to talk - 1737

Depression helpline - 0800 111 757

Supporting Families in mental illness - 0800 732 825

0800 What’s Up? - 0800 942 8787

Lifeline - 0800 543 354

Suicide Prevention helpline - 0508 Tautoko, 0508 828 865

Alcohol and Drug Helpline - 0800 787 797

Asian Family Services -  0800 862 342.  (Counselling services in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Hindi)


Parent Help - 0800 568 856

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust NZ - 0800 472 637


Family Violence - 0800 456 450

Shine (Family Violence) - 0508 744 633

Shakti NZ (Women’s Refuge) - 0800 742 584

Women’s Refugee NZ - 0800 733 843



Safe to talk/Kōrero mai ka ora - 0800 044 334  (Free text – 4334)


Outline - 0800 688 5463


Kidsline - 0800 543 754

Youthline - 0800 376 633



Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254




Public Transport and Total Mobility

On 30 June 2020 Total Mobility fares stopped being free and fares returned to normal. 

During the initial pandemic response, up until 30 June Total Mobility trips had been free for clients up to the regional fare subsidy cap.

The fare policy applied for any travel that was allowed under the current alert level restrictions. It aligned with the similar Covid-19 fare-free public transport policy.

A petition has now been started asking for NZTA to reinstate fully-funded transport for people with limited mobility.



Social stories and visual supports

The TalkLink Trust has put together some COVD19 resources on their website.

Social Stories explaining about COVID19 and staying at home

Visual supports for things like hand washing




Subsidised broadband

Skinny Jump is a not-for-profit service to support all New Zealanders to get affordable broadband. It is aimed to support people who don't have internet access at home because of the cost.

They are offer:

-flexible prepaid broadband
-only $5.00 for 30GB of data
-no contracts or credit checks
-and a free modem

You can apply if you are one of the following:

-A person with disability

-A job seeker

-Living in social housing

-A senior

-Families with children

-A refugee or migrant

Due to the current COVID-19 situation Jump is now only available in some areas, however where it is available you can get help to sign up over the phone.

You can find out whether it is available for you by entering your home address into their website. If it is available, a number to contact is provided.

To find out more visit:




Accessible formats


Information in Easy Read, NZSL, Large Print and Audio is available on the


The People First website has updated messages in Easy Read:

Easy Read information about COVID-19


New Zealand Sign Language

Up-to-date information about Covid-19 in NZSL is also on Deaf Aotearoa's Covid-19 page

Deafradio have also put together a new website which brings together both news and information about Covid-19 for the Deaf community.



Human Rights - your rights and complaints


The Human Rights Commission has launched a dedicated Covid-19 website. 

The website includes information about human rights in relation to the Covid-19 situation including: your general rights, information for people in detention, your rights when interacting with the police, employment rights, and information about family violence.

There is also an online form which provides a way for you to report any human rights issues or concerns.





Let us know your issues or concerns


Please contact us if you have any issues or concerns, or if you feel that you have been unfairly treated.


or phone (04) 801 9100 and leave a message - although we are not currently in the office, we are checking our phone messages regularly