Rhythm and Vines looks red-lined for now but COVID-19 traffic light settings could change before Christmas

The traffic lights are being turned on, but there's no green bulb yet and there won't be until after the New Year - it's a red and orange combo for New Zealand from Friday.

The red light is on in Northland, Auckland, Taupo and Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatane, Opotiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu. 

The rest of the North Island and all of the South Island are orange. 

The difference is vaccination rates. The red areas have lower rates, and as those rates climb, those areas can move down the lights. No one is at green yet, so pack your facemask for the summer holiday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says we need to take a "cautious approach" but the traffic lights could change before Christmas. They'll be reviewed on December 13. 

Gisborne is not vaccinated enough, so it's been put in the red light, meaning Rhythm and Vines is looking red-lined for now. Organisers haven't officially pulled the plug yet but try and imagine 20,000 revellers capped at 100 - no chance. 

"Ultimately, those decisions will be for those festivals," Ardern said on Monday. 

Cabinet took a cautious approach but there is still a glimmer of hope. 

"We are reviewing in two weeks' time and we will do that in an open-minded way," Ardern added. 

Rhythm and Vines organisers say they are still committed to delivering a safe and secure event within the traffic light rules.

Come Friday, most of the country is turning orange, so have your vaccine pass ready to show, or bars, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers become a no-go.

At orange, if the vaccine passes are used, there are no limits on gatherings and events and no restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms or hairdressers.

But if venues don't require vaccine passes, gatherings become limited to 50 people, events are off, hospitality becomes contactless, and gyms and hairdressers close. Retail, education and workplaces open regardless of vaccine passes.

Taranaki is just sneaking into orange. It's 410 jabs away from 90 percent first dose.

At red, if vaccine passes are used, gatherings and events can have up to 100 people, as can bars, restaurants and gyms, as long as there's 1m distance between people. The hairdresser stays open too. 

Without vaccine passes, gatherings are limited to 25, events are off, hospitality becomes contactless, and gyms and hairdressers close. Retail and education can open with no requirement for vaccine passes. Working from home may be appropriate for some staff. 

Aucklanders have been hanging out for red.

"You can now see family and friends again in their homes and use the bathroom inside - luxury," Ardern said with a grin. 

Businesses are bleeding.

"It's really quite absurd that we aren't getting more support," says Olivia Carter, events manager at Auckland's Soul Bar. 

Soul Bar is scared summer trade won't save them after nearly four months of carnage. 

"Yes, I'm sure we'll be busy, but we'll also be turning people away in droves because with the 100 capacity we just can't fit everybody in as much as we would love to," says Carter. 

The wage subsidy is over. The last round opened last Friday. But the Government's COVID-19 piggy bank is still open. Auckland, Waikato and Northland businesses can claim up to $24,000 in a transition payment. 

"If it is deemed that there is further necessary targeted support, it would only be available under the red setting of the new system," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson. 

In two weeks' time the Government will review the settings - the only time before Christmas. It'll then be locked in for a month. 

No one is going green for summer and the Prime Minister says it's very unlikely regions would bounce from orange to red because vaccine rates can't go backwards.

But with COVID-19, there's no guarantees, and if the outbreak starts breaking out, an escalation is not totally off the cards.