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Everything you need to know about the new COVID-19 'Traffic Light' system

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the new step in the COVID-19 response plan and we're breaking it all down for you.
22 October 2021 11:02AM

Goodbye alert levels, hello traffic light.

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed the next stage of New Zealand's COVID-19 protection framework. 

The new framework is made up of 3 steps; Green, Orange, and Red (a.k.a the traffic light).

Once 90% of eligible New Zealanders are full vaccinated, we will move to the new framework, until then we will remain under the alert levels.

Vaccine certificate requirments will play a big role in the new traffic light framework.

Requiring a vaccination certificate will be optional for many locations. There will be some higher-risk settings where they will be a requirement in order to open to the public.

At all levels, businesses, retail, and public facilities will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people.

Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers.

If a business, organisation or service does not wish to request proof of vaccine, they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in Orange and/or Red levels.

Unite against COVID-19 has done a full breakdown of everything you need to know about each of the 3 steps:

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 hospitalisations will be at a manageable level. The health system will be ready to respond, including primary care, public health, and hospitals.

How we stay safe at Green:

  • Record keeping and scanning will be required
  • Face coverings are mandatory on flights and encouraged indoors

Where we can go at Green:

  • Public facilities
  • Retail
  • Workplaces
  • ECEs, schools, kura and tertiary providers
  • Specified outdoor community events
  • Regional boundary restrictions will not apply.

Orange

At Orange, there will be increasing community transmission that is putting pressure on our health system. The whole of health system will focus its resources, but can continue to manage primary care, public health, and hospitals. There may also be an increasing risk for at-risk people.

How we stay safe at Orange:

  • Record keeping and scanning will be required
  • Face coverings will be mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public venues, and encouraged elsewhere

Where we can go at Orange: 

  • Public facilities will be open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing
  • Retail will be open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing
  • Education facilities will be open with public health measures in place
  • Workplaces
  • Specified outdoor community events
  • Regional boundary restrictions will not apply.

Red

At Red, action will be needed to be taken to protect both at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.

How we stay safe at Red:

  • Record keeping and scanning will be required
  • Face coverings will be mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public venues, recommended whenever leaving the house

Where we can go at Red:

  • Public facilities — open with up to 100 people, based on 1m distancing
  • Retail — open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing
  • Workplaces — working from home encouraged
  • ECEs, schools, and kura are open with public health measures
  • Specified outdoor community events — allowed with capacity limits.