National | Covid-19 Traffic Light System

Lights out for traffic light system at midnight tonight

The Covid-19 Protection Framework, known more commonly as the Traffic Light System, will soon be no more, ending tonight at 11:59 pm tonight "so all New Zealanders can continue to move forward with certainty", says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

This was on the advice of health officials, Ardern said after Cabinet met this afternoon.

This includes the requirement of mask use being removed, except in healthcare and aged care facilities such as pharmacies, hospitals and primary care. Government vaccine mandates will also end in two weeks on September 26, with vaccination requirements for travellers and aircrew scrapped too.

Changes have been made for isolation as well, with people who test positive for Covid-19 to isolate for seven days while household contacts no longer need to isolate.

Māori aged 50 and over will have automatic access to Covid anti-virals if they test positive. This also applies to all New Zealanders aged 65 and over. 40,000 more anti-viral medical courses have been ordered and are expected to be in the country in the coming days, says Covid-19 Minister Ayesha Verrall.

“There is no question – thousands of lives have been saved by the efforts of Kiwis. Be it iwi and Māori health providers, Pasifikaorganisations, aged care providers, businesses or the sacrifices of New Zealanders separated from loved ones, everyone played a part," says Verrall.

“Today marks a milestone in our response. Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control," Ardern says.

“For the first time in two years, we can approach summer with the much-needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery."

The traffic light system has been in place for nearly a year, replacing the Covid Alert Level system. The country has spent the majority of it in the Orange and Red settings.