PM reveals regional levels in new traffic light system

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The areas of New Zealand that will go into the Red traffic light system level this Friday have been revealed by the Prime Minister.

The areas that will move to Red are Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts.

The rest of the North Island will move to Orange, as well as the whole of the South Island.

Traffic light system map.

It will be reviewed in two weeks, and then again on January 17. It was intended to be reviewed fortnightly from then.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had signalled early on that Auckland would go straight to Red, while other areas with low vaccination rates would follow.

The new system kicks in late on Thursday night, and will be in place Friday.

Ardern was asked if any place in New Zealand would go Green before the New Year.

"Over the summer period through this transition... we do expect the country will either be in orange or red settings through that period," she said, pointing out that Auckland's boundary only lifts mid-December.

"We are not moving any regions to Green immediately while we continue to get vaccination rates up and transition the country to the new framework," Ardern said.

"Red provides extra protections against Covid-19 such as requiring both Vaccine Passes and some capacity limits in the most-high risk settings – that’s because if someone has Covid-19, the virus will find it harder to spread among fewer people who are at a distance."

She said a region's colour would depend on the level of transmission if there was an outbreak, the pressure placed on the public health system, the ability to contact trace and the level of vaccination in the area.

In terms of DHB rates, Northland has a fully vaccinated rate of 74 per cent, Lakes is at 76 per cent, Tairāwhiti is at 73 per cent and Whanganui is at 77 per cent.

The West Coast DHB also sits at 77 per cent vaccination rate, however it follows the South Island in moving to Orange.

Under the traffic light system, rules will be different for people who are fully vaccinated, compared to people who have not had both their Covid-19 vaccinations.

"Red is the highest level in the new system, which is why Auckland has moved in at Red as the epicentre of the current outbreak, and we’ve taken strong account of vaccination rates and vulnerable populations in the other regions at Red," Ardern said.

“Vaccinated New Zealanders using vaccine passes will be able to do many of the things that were previously treated as high risk, like safely going to bars and restaurants, getting a haircut, and going to a concert or the gym.

"In Auckland, it means seeing friends and family indoors again."

"Other than the existing Auckland boundary, which lifts on January 17, there will be no new restrictions on travel between regions," Ardern said.

Between December 15 and January 17, Aucklanders can leave the city if they are fully vaccinated (have had both Covid vaccinations) or if they provide a negative Covid test taken 72 hours prior to departure.