Ardern: Govt continues caution in traffic light restrictions

Source: 1News

Jacinda Ardern says the Government will continue to take a cautious approach, as Cabinet looks to review the country’s Covid-19 traffic light settings on Monday afternoon.

The Prime Minister told Breakfast ministers would be considering whether it can move areas currently in Red - including Auckland - to Orange.

She said the main difference between the two levels was gatherings.

Under Red, hospitality venues using vaccine passes can have up to 100 people provided they have enough social distancing and people are seated and separated. Under Orange, those limits are removed.

Covid-19 signs outside store.

Without vaccine passes, hospitality businesses can only operate in a contactless way under either Red or Orange.

Ardern said she recognised moving to Orange would be “quite meaningful” for the sector, but added it also increased the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“We can see the impact of vaccines. But it’s just about making sure we’re cautious so we don’t see a runaway of cases which will see us back in red.”

She said Cabinet would be looking at a range of advice to make its decision.

But, it was important to note a full 14-day transmission cycle hadn’t even been completed - the country only moved to the traffic light system on December 3, Ardern said.

“We do want to be cautious. But, look, once we’ve made that transition, then the kinds of things we’re seeing in Auckland are the kinds of things we’ll be looking for - those high rates of vaccination, the management of the outbreak and those numbers have been good lately.

“It’s just that we’re in a transition period and that’s why we need to be careful,” she said.

Meanwhile, the ACT Party is calling for the Government to move Auckland to Orange and the whole of the South Island to Green.

Leader David Seymour said those moves would be consistent with the Government’s own criteria.

“The Government’s traffic light says a region will be in Red when the health system faces an ‘unsustainable number of hospitalisations’. It’s clear the health system isn’t being overwhelmed right now," he said.

“Moving to Orange would remove the venue size limits that are killing so much activity in Auckland and other regions in Red. Hospitality, events, even weddings and funerals are being severely limited by Orange.

“The Government needs to stop making it up as it goes along and follow its own rules.”