New Zealand to shift to traffic light COVID-19 restrictions

Businesses under 'red' will need to limit customers – even the vaccinated ones

New Zealand to shift to traffic light COVID-19 restrictions

New Zealand will be transitioning to a new traffic light system for COVID-19 protocols as the country shifts its focus in containing the Delta variant than eliminating it. Starting 11:59pm, on December 2, New Zealand will be using a new traffic light system that’ll categorise certain areas under green, orange, and red. Green will have the least restrictions on vaccinated and unvaccinated population, according to the government, but it’s unlikely that the scheme would open with an area immediately placed under the category, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Orange is regarded as the medium risk, with enough restrictions on businesses, weddings, concerts, and the like for unvaccinated people. Meanwhile, the red light will be for higher-risk areas, where businesses will have to implement capacity limits on their establishments even for vaccinated people.

Read more: Auckland COVID-19 lockdown: Unions urge employers to play their part after latest outbreak

Ardern said that Auckland - which has been under an extended lockdown - will be placed under the red classification once the traffic light scheme is implemented. Authorities are still classifying the remaining parts of the country, but it will be announced on November 29 to give regions time to prepare and hike vaccinations.

"Cabinet has already confirmed that no region will start at 'green' while we are transitioning and managing a current outbreak," Ardern said as quoted by Newshub.

New Zealand's new scheme comes as it switches its strategy from a zero-COVID goal to containing the pandemic.

"The hard truth is that Delta is here and not going away," the prime minister said as quoted by ABC. "While no country has been able to eliminate Delta completely, New Zealand is better positioned than most to tackle it."

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