Blog Image

Publications

Green light for the COVID-19 Traffic Light System

Home Insights Green light for the COVID-19 Traffic Light System

Contributed by:

Contributed by: Craig Shrive, Victoria Piatov and Monique Pitt

Published on:

Published on: December 07, 2021

Share:

Last week, 2 December 2021 at 11:59pm, New Zealand replaced the Alert Level System with the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light System). This represents a marked change in the Government's COVID-19 policy response to date, by shifting to a system that introduces new freedoms for vaccinated New Zealanders. The Traffic Light System allows businesses to open and operate in a way that is close to normal for vaccinated people while minimising the virus’ spread. 
 
The new framework is intended to give certainty and stability for people and businesses, reducing the need for widespread lockdowns. Unlike the Government's previous elimination strategy under the Alert Level System, the Traffic Light System aims to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and keep hospitalisations down, acknowledging that there will be community cases on an ongoing basis in some areas. This framework continues to use general public health measures such as contact tracing, case management, and testing, but also introduces protection measures based on vaccination status. It is clear that the Government is incentivising New Zealanders to get vaccinated by differentiating the freedoms afforded to those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.  
 
The requirements under the Traffic Light System are set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework) Order 2021 (Order) (available here). Auckland, Northland, and specified areas in the North Island are at the Red setting, while the rest of New Zealand is at the Orange setting. No area of New Zealand is currently at the Green setting, and this is expected to remain the case over the summer period.


 

COVID-19 Requirements

Red Setting

Orange Setting 

 

The Red setting of the Traffic Light System is used if there is a need to protect both at-risk people and New Zealand's health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.
 
All workplaces can open at the Red setting. The key COVID-19 requirements that apply to a business or service operating at the Red setting are as follows:1

The Orange level is used when there is community transmission of COVID-19, with increasing risks to vulnerable communities, and pressure on the health system.
 
The COVID-19 requirements in effect at the Orange setting are largely the same as those at Red, with a few differences as follows.

QR codes must be displayed.

QR codes must be displayed in all workplaces.

Same as at the Red setting.

Businesses must have more than one way for people to record their visit.

Workplaces must have alternative contact record systems and processes (ie ability to manually record details for those who cannot scan the QR code). 

Same as at the Red setting.

Certain businesses or services must have systems in place to ensure people entering scan a QR code or provide a contact record.

This obligation applies only to close proximity businesses (ie hairdressers), courts and tribunals, food and drink businesses or services, gyms, health services, public facilities and specified social services.

Same as at the Red setting.

Obligation to wear face coverings.

Individuals must wear a face covering when in certain businesses or premises, including retail businesses or services, public facilities, and pharmacies.

Same as at the Red setting.

Obligation for workers to wear face coverings. 

A business or service at which workers are required to wear a face covering (eg retail businesses, pharmacies) must have systems and processes in place to ensure, so far is reasonably practicable, that works wear a face covering and must mitigate risks where workers are unable to wear a face covering.

Same as at the Red setting.

If the specified businesses at either setting want to operate freely under the COVID-19 vaccination certificate (CVC) rules, they must use the My Vaccine Pass for customers and visitors (and therefore check that a person who is at the premises carries a valid My Vaccine Pass).
 
If such businesses do not use the My Vaccine Pass for customers and visitors, they must operate under the restrictions of the non-CVC rules, or close entirely if that is not possible. These restrictions include not permitting customers onto the premises and lower capacities.

The following businesses or services must comply with either the CVC rules or non-CVC rules specified in the Order:

  • Food and drink businesses or services;

  • Close-proximity businesses and services;

  • Gyms; and

  • Tertiary education providers.

The following businesses or services must comply with either the CVC rules or non-CVC rules specified in the Order:

  • Food and drink businesses or services;

  • Close-proximity businesses and services; and

  • Gyms.

Specific CVC requirements relating to individuals.

A person who is not CVC compliant must not enter food and drink businesses, close proximity businesses, gyms and tertiary education providers that are CVC-only, and a person must produce a valid CVC when requested at CVC-only premises. 

Same as at the Red setting.

Mandates to not deny a person access to certain premises, or goods or services from certain premises, on vaccination grounds.
 
The mandates apply to supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, petrol stations, premises of health services that receive Government funding etc. See the full list of designated premises at clause 10.

There is a mandate on a business or service in control of a designated premise (supermarkets, pharmacies etc) not to deny entry to persons, other than a worker, on vaccination grounds.

There is no mandate on a business or service in control of a designated premise (supermarkets, pharmacies etc) not to deny entry to persons on vaccination grounds.
 
However, the mandate to not deny a person access to goods and services from designated premises remains.

Restrictions on events and gatherings depends on whether My Vaccine Pass verification is used.

If My Vaccine Pass verification is used, events may occur with up to 100 attendees with 1-metre physical distancing. If My Vaccine Pass verification is not used, the venue may only host a gathering of up to 25 attendees with 1-metre physical distancing. 

If My Vaccine Pass verification is used, there is no limit on the number of people permitted to attend events and gatherings. 
If My Vaccine Pass is not used, gatherings of up to 50 attendances per defined space can be hosted.

Physical distancing rules.

Public facilities and retail businesses must comply with the 1 metre physical distancing rule.

Same as at the Red setting.




From 15 December 2021, the boundary around Auckland and Port Waikato will ease. Between 15 December 2021 and 17 January 2022, travel will be permitted out of or into Auckland for any reason if individuals:
 
  • are fully vaccinated and have a My Vaccine Pass; or
  • carry evidence of a negative COVID-19 test administered no more than 72 hours before crossing the boundary. 
If you would like to obtain more clarity on what the new Traffic Light System means for your business, please get in touch with one of our experts below.

 
Read more:
Regulatory
Talk to one of our experts:
Related Expertise