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NZ to move into new Covid protection system on Dec 3

Wellington : New Zealand will move into the new Covid-19 traffic light system on December 3, which provides the ability for businesses and events to re-open to vaccinated Kiwis, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

All of New Zealand will move into the Covid-19 Protection Framework at 11.59 p.m. on December 2, making December 3 the first day the traffic light system will be in operation, Ardern told a post-cabinet press conference.

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

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, Xinhua news agency quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

She added that businesses that choose to open to the unvaccinated will face restrictions in order to suppress the virus among those most likely to have it.

“Setting the date now gives people, communities and businesses time to prepare to move safely and smoothly into the new traffic light system.”

Decisions on what colour each region will move into will be confirmed on November 29, giving regions time to drive up vaccination rates further, the prime minister said.

“Auckland will enter at Red. The settings for other regions will be based on factors like vaccination levels, but cabinet has already confirmed that no region will start at Green while we are transitioning and managing a current outbreak,” she said.

Detailed sector guidance will be released later this week so businesses and other organisations can see how they will operate at each setting of the traffic light, Ardern added.

The premier called on people to get vaccinated and download their Vaccine Pass, because the key difference between the alert level system and the new traffic light system is that vaccine passes will shortly be required at places like bars, gyms and restaurants.

To date, 91 per cent of people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 83 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.

Vaccine Passes will first be trialed at hairdressers and barbers in the largest city Auckland from Thursday to ensure the transition into the new system goes as smoothly as possible the following week, Ardern said.

Businesses that participate in the trial must operate with Vaccine Passes, take bookings only, and all staff must be fully vaccinated, she added.

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