NZ moves to traffic lights on December 3, hairdressers to open

All of New Zealand will move into the Covid-19 Protection Framework at 11.59pm on Thursday December 2, making Friday December 3 the first day the traffic light system will be operationalised, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this afternoon.

“Cabinet has today provided New Zealanders certainty by confirming the whole country will move into the traffic light system on December 3 – 11 days from now,” Ardern said.

“Setting the date now gives people, communities and businesses time to prepare to move safely and smoothly into the new traffic light system.”

Decisions on what colour each region will move into will be confirmed on November 29, giving regions time to drive up vaccination rates further.

“As previously said, Auckland will enter at Red,” Ardern said.

“The settings for other regions will be based on factors like vaccination levels, but Cabinet has already confirmed that no region will start at Green while we are transitioning and managing a current outbreak.”

Later this week, the Government will release detailed sector guidance so business and other organisations can see how they will operate at each setting of the traffic light.

“While life will feel relatively normal under the new system, which is simpler and safer than the alert levels, it’s time to get prepared to move,” said Ardern.

“The number one thing New Zealanders can do is get vaccinated, because the key difference between the two systems is that vaccine passes will shortly be required at places like bars, gyms and restaurants. So download your Vaccine Pass now.

“We’re preparing too, with a trial period for vaccine passes at hairdressers and barbers in Auckland from (Thursday) November 25 to ensure the transition into the new system goes as smoothly as possible the following week.”

Hairdressers have been chosen because, Ardern said, by default, the scale they operate at, with a limited number of customers at any given time, poses the least risk for the next stage of re-opening.

“Those businesses that participate in the trial must operate with vaccine passes, take bookings only and all staff must be fully vaccinated,” she said.

“The hard truth is that Delta is here and not going away, but New Zealand is well set to tackle it because of our high vaccination rates and our latest safety measures including the traffic light system and Vaccine Pass.

“Our Covid management remains cautious to protect lives and livelihoods – this is the method that has served us so well.

“We’re fast approaching the next phase in our Covid response that delivers more freedoms and recognises the hard work Kiwis have done to get vaccinated.”