NZ won't move to Red traffic light 'at this stage' - Ardern

Source: 1News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is ruling out moving New Zealand to the red traffic light setting "at this stage".

It comes as Covid-19 cases shot up on Tuesday and reinfections were starting to become more commonplace thanks to the immunity-evading Omicron subvariant BA.5.

Meanwhile, the health system reported they were groaning under the pressure of the pandemic, staff shortages and a surge of winter illnesses.

Last week, the Government chose to keep the country in the Orange traffic light setting.

"We have no expectation at this stage [of a move to the Red traffic light setting]," Ardern told reporters on Tuesday while in Australia.

"We've recently done a review and decided to stay in the settings that we had. But, keep in mind, we have really important rules at the Orange setting that are there to protect us."

She said New Zealand had tougher pandemic restrictions in place than other parts of the world including Europe and the US, where she has recently travelled.

READ MORE: 9629 new Covid cases on Tuesday, 24 deaths reported

When asked about the strain Covid-19 cases were putting on the health system, Ardern said it was important to stick to the restrictions that worked.

Moving to Red would restrict gathering limits indoors to 200 people and Ardern said there was a "real question mark" over how much of an impact that would have.

"We know that what makes a difference is mask use and vaccinations. Again, these are restrictions that are not widely used outside of New Zealand."

New Zealand moved to the Orange level of the traffic light system in mid-April.