Traffic Light on colour red Photo by Ulvi Safari on Unsplash
Photo by Ulvi Safari on Unsplash

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

Latest 22/10/2021

Here is everything you need to know about the new traffic light system, including what the rules are for each level and when this system will come into effect. This comes from the government's COVID-19 website

Vaccination unlocks greater freedoms:

Vaccinations have the power to change the way Aotearoa manages the virus, and give us more possibilities.

The COVID-19 Protection Framework brings us a world where we are freer to move and live with less disruption and offers the stability businesses need to plan for the future.

Once 90% of eligible New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and protected, it will be safe to introduce this new framework that does not rely on lockdowns as the main measure to stop the virus spreading.

About the new framework

The COVID-19 Protection Framework introduces a new flexible 3-level approach to managing COVID-19 in the community:

  • Green
  • Orange
  • Red

The framework is more flexible than the current Alert Level system because we know that businesses that only open to vaccinated customers pose a lower risk. We can move up levels when needed to control an outbreak.

Public health measures

Testing, contact tracing and isolation will continue as key tools to minimise any spread of the virus.

Localised lockdowns will still be an option if we see a rapid growth in cases. There may still be a need to use wider lockdowns, similar to the measures in Alert Level 3 or 4. 

To shift between levels, we will consider:

  • vaccination coverage
  • capacity of the health and disability system
  • testing, contact tracing and case management capacity, and
  • the transmission of COVID-19 within the community, including its impact on key populations.

More information will be released in mid-November.

Vaccine certificate requirements

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.

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.
  • Places with vaccination certificate requirements

    There will be no limits if vaccination certificates are used for:

    • Hospitality
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae)
    • Events (indoor/outdoor)
    • Close contact businesses
    • Gyms
  • Places where vaccination certificates are not used

     

    If a business, organisation or service, does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions will apply.

    • Hospitality — up to 100 people, based on 1m physical distancing, seated and separated
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae) — up to 100 people, based on 1m physical distancing
    • Events (indoor/outdoor) — up to 100 people, based on 1m physical distancing, seated and separated
    • Close contact businesses — face coverings for staff, 1m distancing between customers
    • Gyms — up to 100 people, based on 1m physical distancing

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.
  • Places with vaccination certificate requirements

     

    There will be no limits if vaccination certificates are used at:

    • Hospitality
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae)
    • Events (indoor/outdoor)
    • Close contact businesses
    • Gyms
  • Places where vaccination certificates are not used

     

    If a business, organisation or service, does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions will apply.

    • Hospitality — contactless only
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae) — up to 50 people, based on 1m distancing

    These places will not be able to operate without a vaccine certificate requirement:

    • Events (indoor/outdoor)
    • Gyms
    • Close contact businesses

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.
  • Places with vaccination certificate requirements

     

    There will be restrictions if vaccination certificates are used.

    These places will be able to open with up to 100 people, based on 1m physical distancing:

    • Hospitality
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae)
    • Events (indoor/outdoor)
    • Gyms

    These places will be able to open with other requirements:

    • Close contact businesses with public health requirements in place
    • Tertiary education — vaccines required for onsite delivery, with capacity based on 1m distancing

     

  • Places where vaccination certificates are not used

     

    If a business, organisation or service, does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions will apply.

    • Hospitality — contactless only
    • Gatherings (for example weddings, places of worship, marae) — up to 10 people
    • Tertiary education — distance learning only

    These places will not be able to operate without a vaccine certificate requirement:

    • Events (indoor and outdoor)
    • Close contact businesses
    • Gyms