Jacinda Ardern says the new traffic light framework has been designed so that it “will last the distance for us here in New Zealand”.
Friday was the first taste of freedom for many who were in an Alert Level 3 lockdown with the traffic light system opening up.
Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts have now moved to Red under the traffic light system.
The rest of the North Island and the whole of the South Island has moved to the Orange setting. After more than 100 days, pubs, restaurants and gyms have once again thrown open their doors, to the vaccinated public.
Even as the new Omicron variant emerges around the globe, Ardern says contingency has been built into the system for “everything that might come our way, including variants".
“At the moment it’s a little too early to say what challenges Omicron might pose to us. But as I say, we’ve designed a system that allows us to have as many freedoms as possible safely while we are stepping into that new way of working.”
Ardern says the regions of New Zealand in the Red setting will be reviewed mid-December, with any move to Orange will be based on higher vaccination rates.
She says following the mid-December review, there would be another in January “just to give a bit of time for those settings to bed in”.
“We are moving towards being one of the most vaccinated countries in the OECD which is fantastic,” Ardern said. She urged unvaccinated Kiwis to do their research and get the jab.
She says she will still be “on duty” over the summer holiday period but is hoping to catch up with friends and family over Christmas and New Year.