Most of the upper part of the North Island will be directly subject to the highest level of restrictions once the new traffic light system takes effect on Friday. Video / NZ Herald
Most of the upper part of the North Island will be directly subject to the highest level of restrictions once the new traffic light system takes effect on Friday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today confirmed that the country will switch to the new Covid-19 protection framework from 11.59 p.m. Thursday, removing alert level settings that have been part of daily life since March of the year last.
The new framework is based on high vaccination rates allowing living with Covid-19 in the community, with three levels of restrictions depending on the risk posed – green, orange and red.
The districts of Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu will turn directly red.
Auckland, as the center of the current outbreak, had been reported as turning red.
The other areas all have active cases and / or vaccination rates that are still low.
The rest of the North Island and the whole of the South Island will turn orange.
As previously stated by Ardern, no region will go directly green.
“Traffic lights are on for all of New Zealand on Friday as we move safely into the next phase of our leading Covid-19 response,” Ardern said.
“We have prepared ourselves well for this moment by maintaining a cautious approach focused on protecting people and their jobs. Our next phase is focused on minimizing the impact of Covid-19 and protecting people.”
Just over 92 percent of the eligible population – aged 12 and over – have received at least one dose, and 85 percent are now fully immunized.
Of the total population, this is equivalent to 78 and 72 percent, respectively.
However, there are still vast inequalities, largely correlated with issues of access and levels of deprivation, but also because of how the vaccine rollout has been structured to prioritize age groups. older.
Maori, who are generally a much younger population, receive 82 percent of the first dose and 68 percent of both doses in eligible populations.
At the total population level, this drops to just 61 percent of the first dose and 50 percent of the second dose (due to a known undercoverage of health data, it could be even lower).
Ardern said the certainty and stability of traffic lights have replaced sudden blockages and restrictions on alert levels.
“Factors taken into account when setting colors in each region include immunization, health system status, testing, contact tracing and case management capacity, as well as rate and effect. of transmission of Covid-19, “Ardern said.
“Our schools will remain open in all colors and businesses will be protected with My Vaccine Passes to keep operating.
“Outside of the existing Auckland border, which will be lifted on January 17, there will be no new restrictions on movement between regions.”
Under all traffic lights, events, restaurants, bars, gyms and hairdressers should be able to remain open.
That is, on condition that they use a pass to ensure that only vaccinated people use their services.
It is only in the red frame that events and gyms become restricted as they must restrict the number of people in attendance to 100 or less, while hairdressers must also maintain stricter public health measures.
For those who don’t use vaccine passes, nearby businesses – like hairdressers – aren’t able to operate. In rallies, the numbers allowed are limited to 25.
“New Zealanders vaccinated using vaccine passes will be able to do a lot of things that were previously considered high risk, such as going safely to bars and restaurants, having their hair cut and going to a concert or the gym, ”Ardern said.
“In Auckland, that means seeing friends and family inside again.
“But there is more to do. There are 160,889 Kiwis due for a second dose – if everyone had it this week, we would be 89.3% fully vaccinated.
“I encourage these people to get their second dose today to get the full protection of the vaccine and to be able to get their Vaccine Pass.”
Red is the highest level of the new system, which is why Auckland has moved to red as the epicenter of the current outbreak, Ardern said.
“We have strongly taken into account vaccination rates and vulnerable populations in other areas in Red.
“Red offers additional protections against Covid-19, such as requiring both vaccine passes and certain capacity limits in high-risk environments – this is because if someone At Covid-19, the virus will have a harder time spreading among fewer people who are at a distance.
“As we see what happens to cases and vaccination levels, we can look to change regions to orange over time, where there are no collection limits for those using leaves. -pass vaccine.
“We are not going green any region immediately as we continue to increase immunization rates and move the country to the new framework. To achieve this, $ 120 million continues to be distributed to help Maori communities speed up vaccination efforts and prepare for the traffic light system.
“But Covid-19 is always with us, and the emergence of the Omicron variant overseas reminds us why we need to maintain a cautious approach and keep public health measures in place to protect ourselves.
Cabinet will review the settings and provide an update on Monday, December 13.
The next ministerial update will take place on January 17.
Support for businesses under the traffic light system
Businesses will be able to obtain one-time payments of up to $ 24,000 in government support as they transition to the new traffic light system.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the bridging payments would be particularly targeted to businesses in Auckland, Waikato and Northland to help them get back on track after lockdown restrictions that have applied since mid-August in some regions.
One-time payments would be available on December 10, made through the Resurgence Support Payment System. The new support package is expected to cost $ 350 million and $ 490 million in total.
This was a higher rate than current resurgence support payments – and would be calculated at $ 4,000 per company plus $ 400 for each full-time employee, up to a cap of 50 FTEs – a maximum payment of 24 $ 000.
That would be for businesses that could show their revenues were down at least 30% between October 3 and November 9 compared to a typical week in the six weeks leading up to August 17.
“This payment is recognition of the long period of time that Auckland businesses, in particular, spent with restrictions in place before moving to the new framework.”
He said that at all levels of the new traffic light system, most businesses will be able to operate at near full capacity.
He said the government would monitor the impacts of the traffic light system on businesses and expected to report to Cabinet in early 2022 with further supporting recommendations – however, he expected the future. government support is only offered at the red level.
“To be clear on this, if deemed necessary, targeted support would only be available under the red frame of the new system, as companies that operate vaccine passes do not have significant restrictions at Orange. and Green. “
The latest round of wage subsidies and resurgence payments opened on Friday, and Robertson said these would still be paid in addition to the bridging payment.
Payments for staff on leave during segregation or while awaiting test results would also continue to be provided under the traffic light system – but the leave assistance system would increase to a week rather than fortnightly due to shorter isolation periods.