COVID-19: November 29 isn't 'Freedom Day' - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has poured cold water on a November 29 'Freedom Day' for Auckland.

Ardern says it's likely the 'traffic light system' rollout date will be announced on November 29 - but the actual date of its commencement will be in the days following. What that date actually will be, remains anyone's guess. 

It comes after multiple reports last week November 29 had been "circled" as Freedom Day after Ardern told reporters it's likely Auckland will have hit 90 full vaccination rates by that date and could shift into the traffic light framework.

"I can also tell you that based on current projections, Auckland is on track to make 90 percent double-vaccinated this month. Cabinet has a check-in on November 29 and based on Cabinet's discussion today, there is a strong expectation that Auckland will move into the COVID-19 Protection Framework following this November 29 check-in," Ardern said at a press conference last Monday.

But after Health Minister Andrew Little told Newshub Nation at the weekend that November 29 wasn't Freedom Day, as had been reported, Ardern also had some bad news for Aucklanders. 

"On November 29, that's when Cabinet meets to make decisions around when Auckland will move into the [traffic light] framework," Ardern told The AM Show on Monday. "We gave a very strong signal that, at that meeting, we will be making decisions to flip Auckland into the new framework soon after.

"Nothing's changed."

But she expects it won't be too long after November 29 that actual Freedom Day will come - although a date has still yet to be decided.

"We make the decision on the 29th, we announce that decision on the 29th and then there'll be a date that we then flip in," said Ardern.

"As I've said, very soon after [November 29]. Nothing's changed here, essentially."

So will Auckland get on the other side of this lengthy COVID-19 lockdown by the end of the year? Ardern reiterated the Super City will see freedoms by Christmas.

"Obviously, retail opened last week," she said. "This week, schools go back. In Auckland, I hope you're seeing the signs of those restrictions easing but, of course, the most significant change of all is when we move to that COVID Protection Framework because that's when everything opens up again.

"When we start using those vaccine certificates… it will give that certainty to businesses that they're back open and able to operate."