National | Covid-19 Traffic Light System

Orange season: Why Aotearoa is still stalled at traffic lights

As Aotearoa heads into the orange-picking season, who would have thought the country would still be in the Orange traffic light setting this far into the year?

Yesterday the government said it had reviewed Aotearoa's Covid-19 situation and had elected to stay at the orange setting in the face of a potential second wave of Omicron.

The next review of the traffic light setting would be in late June as the orange setting was the right level to manage the virus outbreak during the winter months, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

Colds, flu and Covid 

The government's reasoning is to allow the continued operation of the business sector and prevent another rise back to the red alert level.

"Self-isolation, vaccination and mask-wearing continue to be our main defences against Covid-19.”

Hipkins said the downward trend of the Covid virus was promising “but there are other factors at play that tell us to remain cautious and not yet move to green”.

He urged caution and asked people to "think about the health of others, especially those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of long-term health impacts from infection".

Hipkins said the arrival of new strains of colds and flu would add to the workloads of already busy hospitals.

'Totally redundant'

But not everyone agrees with the cautionary action. In a statement ACT leader David Seymour criticised the government’s decision urging that the country should be allowed to move into the green alert level.

Seymour said the traffic light system was “totally redundant” and the government should “let us get on with our lives”.

He said the announcement was “timely” as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was flying to the United States and that this was all “political theatre taking precedence over common sense.”