Covid traffic lights explained

What is the system?

Soon it will goodbye alert levels, hello traffic lights. The Government has announced a new system to replace the alert level framework, which will be linked to vaccination rates. There will be three levels: red, orange and green. The vaccine pass will play a big part in determining whether many businesses can open at various levels, but they will not be required for essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

What are the levels?

Red

At red, action is to protect at-risk people and the health system from an unsustainable number of hospital admissions. Scanning will be required, as will masks on flights and public transport, and in taxis, retail and public venues. Public facilities will have a 100-person limit, and retail will be open with capacity limits. Working from home will be encouraged. Education providers will be open with public health measures in place. The vaccine pass will be required at tertiary institutions.  Specified outdoor events will be allowed with capacity limits. If a business, organisation or service does not require proof of vaccination, restrictions apply. Hospitality will be contactless if the business does not require vaccination passes, and gatherings will have limits of 10. Close-contact businesses such as gyms can only operate with vaccination passes.

Orange

At orange, there will be increasing community transmission that puts pressure on the health system. The whole health system will focus its resources, but will be able to continue to manage primary care, public health and hospitals. Scanning will be required, as will masks on flights and public transport, and in taxis, retail and public venues. Public facilities and retail will be open with capacity limits and education providers will be open with public health measures in place. If vaccination passes are used, there will be no gathering limits. If they are not used, limits of 50 people will apply. Hospitality businesses not requiring passes will have to operate contactlessly.  Close-contact businesses such as gyms can only operate with vaccination passes.

Green

Green is when there are some Covid-19 cases in the community, and sporadic imported cases. Community transmission will be limited and Covid-19 hospital admissions will be at a manageable level. Scanning in will be required, and face masks will be mandatory on flights and encouraged indoors. All businesses, public facilities and education providers will be open, and specified outdoor events will be able to take place. There will be no limits on gathering numbers if vaccination passesare used. If they are not used, limits of 100 people will apply.

When will the shift happen?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on November 22 that the whole country will move to the new system on December 3. Auckland will move to red, but decisions were yet to be made on what the setting would be for other parts of New Zealand. The setting for other parts of New Zealand would be influenced by vaccination levels. No areas would start at green. The Government earlier said moving to the new framework would be reliant on DHB area's reaching 90% double-vaccination, but this has been scrapped.

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