A “significant cluster” of Covid-19 cases has reportedly broken out at the Gloriavale Christian community.
It’s understood that members are now self-isolating inside the closed religious community, which has around 600 members on sprawling land at Haupiri, 60kms inland from Greymouth on the South Island’s West Coast.
A nearby resident told the local Greymouth Star newspaper they’d been informed.
“They’re just good neighbours, they let us know they had Covid, that they were isolating, and asked us to keep our distance,” they told the Greymouth Star.
“They said if they kept driving and did not stop to chat, that was why.”
When approached by the Herald for comment today, Gloriavale remained tight-lipped.
“We’re not interested in speaking with the press,” a member said.
Gloriavale had been slow to get the Covid-19 jab, with vaccinations historically not being part of their belief system.
But when the government introduced vaccine mandates for the education and health sectors late last year, threatening to close Gloriavale’s on-site schools, which would also have cost them funding, it appears senior leadership had a change of heart. Gloriavale’s teachers and midwives later accepted their Covid vaccinations.
Ministry of Health data for the Lake Brunner area, which encompassed Gloriavale, shows that 88.9 per cent of the eligible population has received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of those, 83.5 per cent have had their second dose, with the national average being a 95 per cent uptake.
Greymouth locals say members of Gloriavale have since been seen wearing masks in the town.
During the first nationwide level-4 lockdown, in March 2020, the Gloriavale Leavers’ Support Trust alleged that the community was ignoring the rules and operating as normal.
Trust general manager Liz Gregory said daycare centres and schools were full of children and large meetings were still being held.
Police said at the time they were working with Gloriavale leadership and other agencies to get them following the lockdown rules.
A group of ex-Gloriavale members are currently taking the community to court in a bid to determine their employment status while they lived there and ascertain whether they were wrongly exploited as workers.
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