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A new Covid-19 response framework was being finalised and details would be released on Friday, providing people with greater clarity, Jacinda Ardern said.
"It will become very clear to people that if you are not vaccinated there will be things that you miss out on, everyday things that you will miss out on," Ardern told Morning Report.
"It's about both rewarding people who have gone out and done the right thing but also keeping away people who are less safe."
She said the government was confident vaccine certificates would be ready for when the framework was put in place.
It would be like an alert level system, she said.
"We've always said once we're vaccinated it will be different, so we need to therefore design what that looks like."
Ardern said the government was drawing some distinctions, though they didn't want an environment where people couldn't access necessary goods and services to maintain their lives.
"We can't say someone can't get health services, medical needs, pharmacies, food."
The government was supporting providers who were providing incentives for people to get vaccinated, she said.
"Anything that they identify will work for their community has our backing."
Ardern said domestic travel was being looked at separately from the framework to be announced on Friday, and work was being down to see if there was a way to safely allow movement.
"But that would have a number of checks around it - is there a way that we can use vaccine certificates but also acknowledge that even if you're vaccinated it is still possible for you to have asymptomatic Covid."
Epidemiologist Rod Jackson told Morning Report the government needed to go hard on those who "hadn't yet got around" to getting a vaccine - "With no jab, no job, no fun".
The second group of people who aren't vaccinated, however, don't trust the system, he said.
"And for those we have to find the people that they trust.
"The only game in town is to buy time until we get everyone vaccinated."
The government has signalled a vaccination target will be part of the soon-to-be-announced framework.
Jackson says if 95 percent of the population is vaccinated, there will be death, disease and hospitalisations for the last five percent.
"Those were the 5 percent who were the first to get Covid in Europe last year, those are where most of the deaths are, those are where most of the hospitalisations are...For the rest of us, we're all going to get Covid again.
He said people don't realise that.
"There's two ways to get vaccinated. You either get vaccinated by the virus, and that's brutal, one in 10 hospitalisations in this latest outbreak. If you get Covid after you've been vaccinated it will happen slowly because the vaccine is fantastic for dealing with severe disease but it only slows down infection."
Slowing down infection was the key problem a vaccinated population faced, he said.
"Because Covid spreads so rapidly, even if the vaccine has reduced your risk of going to hospital from one in 10 to one in 100. That is still one in 100 of a lot of people if Covid is spreading rapidly."
A flexible approach was needed, he said.