Traffic light system move within days of November 29 - PM

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Nov 2021, 10:50AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Traffic light system move within days of November 29 - PM

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Nov 2021, 10:50AM

Prime Minister Jacinda has indicated that all businesses, including cafes and restaurants, will open again within days of the big review date - November 29. 

It is expected Auckland and the rest of the country will then move into the traffic light system within a day or two of next Monday, she told Three's AM Show. 

Asked if businesses should expect to be open within a day or two of the November 29 Cabinet decision, she said: "Correct." 

Ardern says the country's largest city is on a "very clear" path to what will start to be a somewhat normal life. 

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast, she said vaccination rates reaching 90 per cent coverage in many parts of the city was making a huge difference compared to when the country went into lockdown in mid-August. At that time, the vaccination rate was about 20 per cent. 

For those hospitality businesses hoping for a move into alert level 3.3 this week, it seems unlikely; given the high number of community cases still being identified in the city. 

But Ardern has given a strong indication that those in the hospitality sector should plan to get back to business next week. 

"Plan for the 29th. We've already given that certainty - the 29th is the decision day for us around which levels parts of the country will go into," Ardern told Breakfast. 

"But Auckland already know - they're going into red. That means that hospitality reopens - cafes, restaurants, it means gyms, it means all those close personal services everyone has missed. They all reopen." 

She asked people to use vaccination certificates and urged people to download theirs and "get ready". 

"Business - my strong signal would be, we are reopening." 

Tested on her knowledge of the traffic light system, she told the AM Show that at the moment, 25 people can gather outside in Auckland. 

Officials are considering whether the red setting should be brought into alignment with that, rather than the current proposed 10-person capacity in settings where vaccination passports are not used. 

Once regions moved into the traffic light system, people would realise it felt very familiar. 
It would also be very simple for most people because if they had a vaccine pass they could do everything, she said. 

The exception was large events such as concerts that would have a capacity limit at the higher alert levels. 

Ardern said the whole country was not going into red - just those regions with lower vaccination levels and Auckland because it was the epicentre of the outbreak. 

She said they were making sure the previous easing of restrictions were still bedding in so Auckland's alert levels were unlikely to ease today. 

"But because we are so close to flipping into the new framework and because we have had a number of examples of easing, we are wanting to just make sure that those are bedding in, that we are seeing those case numbers continue to be under control," she said. 

On managed isolation restrictions, Ardern said removing all restrictions at the border would be too risky and there was still potential for overseas Covid cases to result in further Covid outbreaks. 

The new normal would soon be managed isolation at home then, she said. She acknowledged that would help stop further outbreaks, while also avoiding a bottle-neck situation at the current MIQ facilities. 

"We don't want to be Europe. We don't want to be in a situation where we lose control. 

"We always have maintained that the way we will manage Covid will be about managing control and protecting people so we can have as much freedom here as possible." 

She said that would ultimately allow for more people from overseas to return to New Zealand during these times. 

Touching on the latest political poll, she acknowledged that Labour had gone down 0.3 per cent and 3 per cent for her. 

She has had to make some "really tough" decisions over the last three months the fact the poll remained steady was, in her mind, a course for confidence in the decisions they had been making, she told the AM Show. 

"It's my job to make those tough calls even when not everyone will view them favourably." 
She said it had been a tough time for many New Zealanders, but that would change. 

"Covid is creating a very tough environment. No question and we are not the only ones going through this."