Businesses eager to open after getting clarity over new traffic light system

Businesses have finally got the answers they've waiting for ahead of the move into a new phase of living with COVID-19.

The new traffic light system will replace alert levels from next Friday, allowing businesses to open up while helping keep cases down.

From nail tips to toe, businesses are getting ready to go under the new system. The Nail Lounge owner Debbie Walsh says she's ready to open next week.

"Oh, I'm really excited - I'm chomping at the bit," she said. 

Close contact businesses like nail bars must use vaccine passes and masks. But Walsh says she's not worried about it. 

"It's pretty easy, I've downloaded everything I need to go so we're ready to rock on December 3. I don't really have any qualms about it. I just can't wait to get open again." 

Gyms across Auckland can also reopen next week as long as they use vaccine passes and masks. 

Rhys Jolly from Playground Fitness NZ says they're thrilled to be able to open after more than 100 days in lockdown. 

"We're pretty over the moon to be opening, it's been a long three months - up and down with a few emotions." 

Auckland will be moving into the 'red' setting, which means a maximum of 100 people or a minimum of a metre spacing.

Jolly says the settings aren't an issue for them. 

"Pretty easy for us personally, we've always operated where you stay in your lane, so each lane is a minimum of a metre apart. Bring on Friday." 

More than 2 million vaccine passes have been issued and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says that's a good sign. 

"Thirteen DHBs have vaccinated more than 90 percent of their eligible population with their first dose." 

Vaccination will now also be made mandatory for the police and Defence Force from early next year. Most already are, but around 800 frontline officers are yet to get a jab.

Meanwhile, the Taxi Federation wishes it was mandatory for drivers and passengers too.

"We see ourselves as being in a vulnerable position. The drivers are in a confined space, they should be vaccinated - no different from hairdressers," says spokesperson Warren Quirke. 

Most businesses are just happy the red light gives them the green light to get going again.