Government's new COVID Protection Framework revealed

The Government's new COVID Protection Framework to replace the alert level system has been revealed - a pathway for Auckland to slowly shed its restrictions. 

Government's new COVID Protection Framework revealed

The new framework includes three traffic lights - Green, Orange and Red - to replace the alert level system introduced in March 2020, when there was no vaccine available. 

With vaccines now in play, and almost 90 percent of eligible Aucklanders with at least one dose of the Pfizer jab, the Government has provided a plan to end the city's months-long lockdown. 

"The Red setting is what we'll use when the virus is spreading in a way that means we need to take action to protect our most vulnerable and prevent too much pressure on our health system," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday. 

"Here, while hospitality is open with vaccine certificates, and retail is also open with the usual public health measures, gathering limits and physical distancing will also be required. Education will be open but with public health measures in place. Working from home is encouraged. Masks will also be required in the same way we use them now."

Auckland will move into Red after all three of the Auckland District Health Boards (DHBs) hit the 90 percent double vaccination target. Nearly 90 percent of eligible Aucklanders have had at least one dose. 

An important aspect of the new framework is vaccine certificates. Under Red, hospitality venues will be able to open with up to 100 people who are fully vaccinated, and gatherings of up to 100 fully vaccinated people will be allowed to attend events such as weddings and funerals.

Events could go ahead with up to 100 vaccinated people, gyms could open with up to 100 vaccinated people, and education - schools and universities - could reopen. 

If a business chooses not to use vaccine certificates, only contactless hospitality would be allowed, and only 10 unvaccinated people could gather for the likes of weddings and funerals. 

Close contact businesses such as gyms would not be allowed to open without vaccine certificates, and tertiary education could only go ahead online, if they choose not to use vaccine certificates.

Under the Orange light, there would be no gathering limit restrictions for those who have a vaccine certificate. But public health measures such as record keeping, mask wearing and social distancing would still be required. 

However, businesses that don't implement vaccine certificates would still have restrictions. Hospitality venues would only be allowed to be contactless, and gatherings such as weddings and funerals could only have 50 people. Gyms would remain closed. 

When it comes to the Green light, unvaccinated people would get more freedoms. Green would come into force with limited community transmission and hospitalisations at a manageable level. 

Under the Green light, hospitality venues that don't require vaccine certificates could have up to 100 people, seated and separated. Gatherings of up to 100 people could commence, and gyms could open with up to 100 people. 

The new framework does not include information about regional borders. Ardern said the Government is still working out how it will work.

In the meantime, the Government will continue to use the step system announced a few weeks ago. Under Auckland's current alert level 3, step 1 settings, outdoor gatherings of two bubbles are allowed, and some outdoor recreational activities.