Covid-19 Update: Traffic Light System and Vaccination Passes

18 November 2021

Tēnā koutou

We are on the final countdown to the Xmas holidays, and I suspect you are all, like me and the whole Master Builders team, looking forward to some well-earned time to rest and recharge with your whanau and friends. 2021 has been another tough year for several reasons: material supply and pricing pressures in a booming market, labour shortages, and the huge impact of Delta and the resulting lockdowns. Our sector has seen significant disruption this year and although we are getting through it all, it does and is having an impact on the health of our businesses and people. So, the holiday season cannot come soon enough. 

The Government announced yesterday that the Auckland border will be softened from 15 December to 17 January. From this date, Aucklanders who are fully vaccinated or those that have a negative COVID test 72 hours prior, will be able to leave Auckland and travel freely around New Zealand. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the criteria. Police will be responsible for enforcing the system, will be using spot checks and have the authority to impose $1000 infringement notices to those who do not comply. It appears at this stage that those travelling to Auckland can do so freely without any criteria. There is currently no confirmation on what will happen on 17 January 2022 however, it has been indicated that at this point the current domestic regional border restrictions will be lifted and New Zealand will be fully under the new traffic light system. This is a new approach for New Zealand and is the start of our shift out of an elimination strategy to one of living safely with Delta.

I am sure we are all supportive of Aucklanders who will be able to finally visit their whanau and/or enjoy a proper chance to share in the Xmas break, they have been doing it tough on our behalf for three months now. However, it is natural for the rest of New Zealand to feel concerned about what this means regarding a Delta outbreak in their region. 

The Government has advised they understand their decision to open up Auckland may cause anxiety for many, and have made the decision to move all New Zealand into the new traffic light system at the same time as Auckland. Cabinet will formally confirm the move on 29 November, with the actual move to be “soon after that”. Although an exact date is yet to be given it is likely to be early December. Information on the traffic light system is provided below.

The public health advice is that with Auckland opening up for Xmas, and while we are still getting our vaccination rates up across all New Zealand, the traffic light system is the safest way to protect both vaccinated and unvaccinated New Zealanders. That is why the decision has also been made to move all of New Zealand into the new system before every DHB has reached the 90% fully vaccinated threshold as previously advised. 

As an added layer of protection, Auckland and those regions with lower vaccination rates will move straight into the highest traffic light category of RED. Confirmation of the criteria for determining what regions will be in what colour is yet to be announced but the Prime Minister has indicated that those regions still under the 90% fully vaccinated threshold will likely go straight into RED. 

Extra precautions are also being put in place for the South Island, with Air New Zealand having its domestic travel policy in place for all of New Zealand by 15 December requiring vaccination or a negative test 72 hours prior to travel, and the same requirements now being rolled out to the inter-island ferries. 

There were no announcements of changes to the international border requirements, but dates are to be released in the near future on the ability to self-isolate rather than in MIQ.

Vaccination Passes
With the move into the new traffic light system imminent, the Government has released its vaccination pass for those that are fully vaccinated. You will need this pass to enjoy many activities over summer in the traffic light system, so download it as soon as you can. 
Information on how to get your vaccination pass can be found here. Understandably there is currently a lot of people accessing this so you might need to be patient. 
The practicalities of how businesses will implement and monitor the vaccination status of those accessing their services is yet to be worked through, although the Government has announced assistance and support will be provided in the future, including a verification app. Requiring a vaccination pass will remain optional for many locations, but there will be some higher-risk settings where they will be a requirement in order for a business to open to the public, or for the public to access the service, such as:

  • Bars
  • Hairdressers
  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Hospitality
  • Gyms

For those businesses where mandatory vaccination passes are not required, they can still decide to implement a vaccination entry requirement and avoid heavier restrictions under orange and red levels. For businesses that do not wish to implement a proof of vaccination requirement they will have to operate with strict limits or even close in Orange and/or Red levels. 

Supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, food banks and petrol stations will not be able to require vaccination certificates. Children under the age of 12 will not be required to show proof of vaccination and there will be an exemption process to get certification for the small number of people who are unable to get a vaccination for medical reasons.

The Role of Vaccination 
Vaccination is the biggest protection we have against contracting the virus, serious illness and death. RMBA continues to strongly endorse the Government’s vaccination strategy. It is pleasing that in three months New Zealand’s full vaccination rate has gone from 23% in August to 82% today, as projected we will hopefully be at 90% by mid-December. 

However, there are still many eligible New Zealanders yet to have their first dose, and we strongly encourage our members who are still to get vaccinated, to do so today.

To book your vaccine or find a walk in centre please click here.

To track the DBH vaccination rates please click here.

To track your region’s vaccination rate please click here.

The COVID 19 Protection Framework and Vaccination Target
The framework is intended to minimise the spread of the virus, while still enabling New Zealanders to live as normal lives as possible and our businesses to remain open even when we have cases. As the Prime Minister has previously stated, “the days of shutting down over one case will be over”. 

The framework is built around a traffic light system of Green, Yellow and Red, with different permissible activities depending on the colour (see below). 

Key elements of the framework are:

  • Testing, contract tracing and isolation will continue as a key tool to minimise any spread of the virus.
  • Localised lockdowns will still be an option if there is rapid growth in cases in a region(s). Wider lockdowns, similar to levels 3 and 4, may also be needed but it is intended that these are no longer used on regular basis or to manage small numbers of cases.
  • Those who are vaccinated will be able to enjoy a number of freedoms that unvaccinated people will not.
  • Businesses should be able to remain operating at all levels depending on their decision to require vaccination certificates from the public. 
  • Schools should also be able to remain open at all levels. 

Shifts between levels will rely on:

  • Vaccination coverage
  • Capacity of the healthcare system to cope
  • Testing, contract tracing, and case management capacity
  • The transmission of COVID-19 within the community, including its impact on key populations

Summaries of the framework are set out below, but more detailed information on the new framework, vaccination certificates, your own vaccination status and the vaccination rates in your area can be found here.

Click on the image above to view it enlarged.

General Information about COVID-19

Click here for our last COVID-19 update.

Click here to find out general information regarding this outbreak

We understand CHASNZ are updating their protocols in preparation for the move into the traffic light system. They will be updated on their website once finalised so please continue to check their website, which can be found here.

Please also continue to check locations of interest and get tested if you have symptoms or have visited a location or suburb of interest.

Kia Kaha. 
David Kelly