The next steps in our COVID-19 response plan

Over the past two years, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID-19 has been a key focus of the Government. As we move into a new phase of our COVID response, the traffic light system, protecting lives and livelihoods remains our priority.

We’ve got a plan that will enable us to carefully open up while keeping New Zealanders safe and giving everyone greater certainty – and we enter this new phase better placed than many other countries.

Thanks to our decisive approach to COVID over the past two years, we’ve had the lowest number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths in the OECD. Our economy is strong, with GDP up 2.8% in the last quarter and unemployment at a record low of 3.4%. We also have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with more than 3.5 million Kiwis fully vaccinated.

This puts us in a strong position as we take the next step.

Overseas, Delta has changed the game: many countries that recently removed restrictions are putting them back in place, as they face fourth and fifth waves. Here in New Zealand, with the virus emerging in areas outside of Auckland, it’s time to change our strategy to protect our communities and provide more opportunities for businesses.

Our decisive action in August, moving quickly to Alert Level 4, slowed the spread and bought us time to drive up vaccination rates. Now, as we near the milestone of 90% eligible Kiwis fully vaccinated, we’re moving forward with our clear and simple plan to carefully reopen.

The new COVID-19 Protection Framework will keep New Zealanders safe from Delta, while ensuring we can enjoy summer with fewer disruptions and more certainty. Businesses can safely reopen, big events can go ahead, and people can plan ahead with confidence, because our high vaccination rates mean lockdowns are no longer our main line of defence against COVID.

Vaccine passes are a key part of our plan. They’ll ensure our communities, workplaces and events are safe, adding an extra layer of protection for people who can't be vaccinated like young children and ensuring our health system doesn’t face undue pressure.

To make the most of this new approach to COVID, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated. This will mean that no matter what traffic light setting your region is at, you’ll be able to visit cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms, and attend events like concerts. If you aren’t fully vaccinated, there will be things you miss out on.  

We want everyone to be able to do the things they love and see the people they love, safely. If you haven’t yet had your first or second dose, we encourage you to take that step as soon as possible.

If you’re already fully vaccinated, it’s important that you get your Vaccine Pass – your official proof of vaccination. It’s your ticket to accessing things like bars, restaurants, gyms, and sports games under the new framework, and it’s super quick and easy to get hold of. You can request your pass by visiting My COVID Record or by calling 0800 222 478.

This is a significant shift for New Zealanders, but we have a plan – and it’s the best way to keep New Zealanders as safe and as free as possible in this new phase of our response. We have huge opportunities before us, as the traffic light framework enables us to open up, safely.

For further details on our new approach to managing COVID-19, you can read more about the COVID Protection Framework or watch the Prime Minister’s announcement of the framework