No more masks? What life under green traffic light setting looks like ahead of Government review

The Prime Minister has hinted the country might soon be moving to the green COVID-19 traffic light setting.

Jacinda Ardern revealed on Monday Cabinet would review Aotearoa's traffic light settings and broader COVID-19 rules in a fortnight, with ministers considering whether to shift the country to the green setting. 

"Obviously you will have heard us say that we are going to look at our settings post-winter and so that is what we are going to do," Ardern told reporters. 

"We've got to make sure the frameworks we are working in are fit for purpose at any given time. We did that obviously with the alert level system and we will do the same [again]." 

New Zealand is currently in the orange setting and has been for some time. But over the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases have been steadily dropping with just 2464 new community cases announced on Tuesday. 

And if the country does shift it would mean retail workers would no longer need to wear masks all day.

Under the green setting, all restrictions are dropped including mask requirements and requirements to use QR codes to track your movements. Currently, under the orange settings, masks are required at retail stores such as supermarkets, shopping malls, pharmacies and petrol stations. They are not required at hospitality venues such as cafes and bars. 

While there are no restrictions in the green setting, Kiwis are urged to continue wearing masks in poorly ventilated indoor areas and when they are around people they don't know.

Health officials also urge people to continue practising proper hygiene including washing hands and sneezing into elbows. 

COVID-19 isolation rules still apply under the green setting and anyone with symptoms is urged to stay home and take a test. 

The review comes as COVID-19 cases have been steadily dropping since the start of August. But the drop comes after under pressure hospitals struggled to keep up with demand when the country saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in March with daily cases peaking above 20,000. This coupled with a particularly bad flu season and staffing shortages saw hospitals and GPs struggling to keep up. 

But with the rolling seven-day average cases now down to just over 2000 there may be light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. 

New Zealand has been in the orange setting since April.