You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Auckland cafes and gyms opened their doors today as New Zealand dropped alert levels and moved into the Covid-19 protection framework.
National leader Christopher Luxon has been in the city's viaduct harbour today, speaking to hospitality business owners.
Speaking at Auckland bar The Fox, he said the city should have gone to the orange setting, as the red light is for when the health system is overwhelmed and vaccination rates are low - neither of which is happening in Auckland.
"Why is Auckland in red light? That is designed for when the country has an overwhelmed healthcare system, and the Prime Minister says it is fine. And we have some of the highest vaccination rates of any city on planet earth."
Luxon said restrictions were causing "real challenges" to businesses like The Fox.
"These businesses have been doing it tough for so long, and they are still under huge restrictions posing real challenges for them."
He suggested the Government adopt a similar scheme to New South Wales' Dine and Discover, which provided dining vouchers as the state came out of lockdown.
It was similar to Britain's "Eat Out to Help Out" dining subsidy.
The Government launched a voucher scheme this week but it excluded hospitality, which drew criticism from the sector.
He says Auckland hospitality businesses are worried about the city emptying over the summer and being hit again in the pocket.
Auckland is in traffic light setting red with Northland, Taupō, Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu districts. Everywhere else started the day in orange.
Earlier today, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said while Covid-19 cases will spread under the new framework, the summer rollout of the system is optimal timing.
Hipkins told Morning Report when winter arrived and the pressure on the heath system ramped up, booster shots and doses for children over five would have been rolled out.
He warned using the Covid tracer app would become even more important with the increased movement, with many locations of interest, and people would be notified if they'd been to one.
- additional reporting NZ Herald