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NZ outlines new Covid protection framework

Wellington : New Zealand on Friday outlined its fresh Covid-19 protection framework to deliver greater freedom for vaccinated citizens, which is more flexible than the current alert level system.

The framework provides pathway out of lockdown and ability for businesses and events to re-open to vaccinated New Zealanders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference.

It is a “simpler framework” to minimize cases and hospitalisations without use of widespread lockdowns, Ardern said, adding Auckland, the largest city, will move into the new framework when 90 per cent of eligible population are fully vaccinated, reports Xinhua news agency.

Likewise, the rest of the country will move into the new system when 90 per cent of eligible population are fully vaccinated across all regions, she said.

The simplified framework has three levels: green, orange and red. Vaccine certificates will provide greater freedom at each level, Ardern said.

The new traffic light framework will allow businesses previously considered with high risk to fully open to vaccinated customers at green and orange, and continue to operate with some restrictions at red, she said, adding businesses that choose to open to the unvaccinated will face restrictions in order to suppress the virus amongst those most likely to have it.

Through this, vaccinated people will regain everyday freedoms when the country moves to the new framework that doesn’t rely on nationwide lockdowns as the main measure to stop the virus spreading, Ardern said, adding localized lockdowns will still be an option if a rapid growth in cases in areas occurs with high levels of unvaccinated people.

“Fully vaccinated people will be able to reconnect with family and friends, go to bars and restaurants and do the things they love with greater certainty and confidence,” she said.

The government is also providing up to NZ$940 million per fortnight to support businesses through the challenging period, particularly those in Auckland, and NZ$120 million are also being provided to accelerate the vaccination rate of the aboriginal Maoris in the coming weeks.

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