LIVE: Western BOP to have orange Covid setting
UPDATED: The Western Bay of Plenty will enter the new Covid protection frame work on Friday at the orange setting.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the setting each region will enter the traffic light system at a post Cabinet briefing this afternoon.
Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move in at red.
The rest of the North Island and all of the South Island will enter at orange.
These settings will remain for two weeks and be reviewed by Cabinet on December 13.
The next update by ministers will be on 17 January, and will continue on a fortnightly basis.
“On Friday the traffic lights are turned on for all of New Zealand, as we move forward safely into the next phase of our world-leading Covid-19 response,” says Ardern.
“We’ve prepared well for this moment by maintaining a cautious approach focused on protecting people and their jobs. Our next phase is focused on minimising the impact of Covid-19 and protecting people.”
“We’ve vaccinated a significant portion of the team of 5 million, and now is the time to move to a new framework.
“We’ve come through the past two years of Covid in better shape than nearly anywhere in the world, with the lowest case and death rates in the OECD, a growing economy, and among the highest rates of vaccination in the world.
“We’re now in the strongest position to move forward into the next phase.
“The certainty and stability of the traffic lights replaces the sudden lockdowns and restrictions of alert levels. Our schools will stay open at every colour and businesses will have protection through My Vaccine Passes to keep operating.
“Other than the existing Auckland boundary, which lifts on December 15, there will be no new restrictions on travel between regions.”
She says the vaccine passes would allow vaccinated New Zealanders to do many of the things previously treated as high risk, regardless of which colour setting each area was in.
"Like safely going to bars and restaurants, getting a haircut, and going to a concert or the gym. In Auckland, it means seeing friends and family indoors again," says Ardern.
For Auckland, she says: "You can now see family and friends again in their homes, and use the bathroom inside. Luxury. If you are unvaccinated you can gather with others but the gathering limits are lower across each of the levels."
The traffic light setting for the North Island. Supplied image.
Ardern says life for the unvaccinated would be more restricted. "That is the best way that we can ensure that the unvaccinated are protected too."
Factors considered in determining the regions' settings include vaccination rates, testing, contact tracing, the state of the health system and case management capacity, as well as the rate and effect of Covid-19 transmission, she says.
Ardern says at every colour setting, there were three key things to remember - having your vaccine pass with you, wearing a mask, and scanning in wherever you go.
"At orange, the big change here for parts of the country which will enter into this setting is that for the vaccinated and where vaccine passes are used, there are no gathering limits.
"People can gather again safely. At red, it will feel a lot like level 2. Your vaccine pass lets you go everywhere but number limits of 100 will apply to most activities.
“As we see what happens to cases and vaccination levels we can look to move regions down to orange over time, where there are no gathering limits for those who are using vaccine passes.”
“We are not moving any regions to green immediately while we continue to get vaccination rates up and transition the country to the new framework.”
She says to achieve this, $120 million continues to be distributed to support Māori communities to fast-track vaccination efforts and prepare for the traffic light system.
“Covid-19 is still with us, and the emergence of the Omicron variant overseas is a reminder of why we need to maintain a careful approach and keep public health measures in place to protect us,” says Ardern.
“With 85 per cent of New Zealanders now fully vaccinated, 92 per cent with their first dose and boosters being already rolled out, we are ready to move forward in our next stage of the Covid response.”
EARLIER: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will give a post-cabinet briefing where she will announce the settings each region will enter the traffic light system.
Ardern will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson at 4pm.
The country will move into the new system on Friday, with some businesses having to make tough decisions about whether they enforce the 'no jab, no entry' policy, or welcome everybody and suffer the consequences.
Whatever setting each region ends up with, one thing is certain - unless you are fully vaccinated and have a vaccination certificate you will very limited in where you can go.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley has a pretty good idea which colour Bay of Plenty would be.
"Given the number of cases already in the bay and our double-jab rate is pretty low, I am hopeful for orange but I am predicting red."
Cowley says being able to lift the lid on how many punters they will be allowed to let through the door will be welcomed by bars and restaurants forced to hobble along with strict limits for the last three months.