Explained: What is the traffic light system and how it works


On December 3, the country will abandon the alert level system in place since early 2020 and switch to the traffic light system.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the decision today, saying the most important thing to communicate about the traffic light system was “for the most part, if you are vaccinated you can do all kinds of things that you do. usually wait. .. what varies is the size of these gatherings at different levels ”.

So what is the traffic light system – officially the Covid-19 protection framework – and how does it work? Here are the basics:

The system will involve three parameters – green, orange and red.

Vaccine levels will play a big role in which regions turn red and which turn orange on December 3, Ardern said.

“We’ll look at… the vaccination rates, we’ll look at the case rates, and that will be the main determining factor, but we’ll also be pragmatic. So, you know, a good indication is if you’ve hit 90 percent first. dose is a good indication of where you are heading.

“If you want to be sure that whatever setting we find ourselves in, you can go to bars, restaurants and businesses nearby like a hairdresser, then you will need to be vaccinated,” Ardern told the media in October.

At the time, Ardern also said vaccination certificates would allow businesses to open and operate at any level.


The red frame will allow hospitality to open with vaccination certificates, but assembly limits, physical distancing, masks and other public health measures would be used.

Record keeping and digitization will be required, with face coverings mandatory on flights, public transport, taxis, retail and on premises.

Public facilities can open up to 100 people and 1m distance. The retail store must also have a distance of 1 m.

People are advised to work from home, but ECEs, schools and kura can open with public health measures.

Some outdoor community events will be permitted with limited capacity.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod


At orange, the collection limits can go up. Places that choose not to use vaccination certificates will either be closed or have public health measures in place.

There will be no limits for the following if vaccination certificates are used: hospitality, gatherings (weddings, worship, marae), events, convenience stores, gyms.

Without the use of certificates, hospitality and gatherings will have limits enforced

Without the use of certificates, events, gyms and businesses in close contact will not be able to function.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod


Green is when there are cases of Covid-19 in the community but at low levels.

Fully vaccinated people can enjoy all events, hospitality and gatherings by presenting a vaccination certificate.

Locals who choose not to use certificates will face restrictions similar to the current alert level framework.

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Photo: RNZ

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Photo: RNZ