National leader Christopher Luxon dubs COVID-19 traffic light system 'intellectual complication we don't really need'

Get ready to reclaim your life, Kiwis - a major loosening of COVID-19 restrictions was announced on Wednesday and it will affect you. 

To start with, you will no longer have to produce a vaccine pass at places like restaurants and bars, which means unvaccinated people will be able to go to them. 

Also on that date, vaccine mandates will be dropped for teachers, police and Defence Force workers - meaning the unvaccinated can return to working in those sectors. 

And a change that will take place much sooner: we can all do away with QR code scanning from this weekend. Also, up to 200 people can gather indoors, up from 100. 

Outdoors, there is no gathering limit and no masks are required for big outdoor events. 

It's good news for the organisers of the Women's Cricket World Cup. From this weekend, the World Cup will be allowed to have a proper crowd. 

After so long with the brakes on to stay safer from COVID-19, it has also been "bloody hard", as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it during a press conference on Wednesday. 

"We are still keeping in place our traffic light system. But we're making changes based on evidence to make it easier to live with," Ardern said. 

From midnight on Friday, gathering limits increase and outdoor crowds are back no matter the size. It's too late for Polyfest because it's too hard to organise everything necessary to host a crowd by Saturday. 

Indoors, you can double your numbers to a maximum of 200 people - but there's no champagne popping at our struggling bars because there is still no dancing allowed. The 200 people need to be seated and separated.

"Very few venues have got more than 100 seats and so for a lot of them it's not going to make any difference at all," says Lulu Bar owner Jeremy Smith. 

Come Saturday, your COVID Tracer app is obsolete because scanning will no longer be necessary. Though, some of us stopped a while ago

Flashing your vaccine pass is about to become a thing of the past. They will be gone from April 4; a couple of weeks away to make sure we're past the peak of Omicron. 

"You can see that our timing is very much based on the evidence in front of us," Ardern said. 

The mandates that gave rise to a riot will be phased out from April 4 too. The Prime Minister denies the protesters were victorious. 

"Because it's safe to do so, not because anyone arrived on the front lawn of Parliament," she said. 

The scrapheap of restrictions is not enough for the Opposition. They want the traffic light system gone. 

"The traffic light system is an intellectual complication that we don't really need. We can just have some pretty simple rules around masking," says National leader Christopher Luxon.

"Our view is that with some simple instructions around masking and around crowd limits and those sorts of things, we can manage that with a simpler set of rules, rather than the confusion of the traffic light system."

Ardern says it's simple. 

"Simply put, 'red' means indoor gathering limits and masks; 'orange' means masks and 'green' means guidance."

Nearly two years to the day since Ardern took the unprecedented step to lock us all inside our homes, we might finally be turning a corner. 

"This is not the end but in some ways, it is also a new beginning," Ardern said.

It's perhaps the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis.