Covid-19: what life will look like under a red light after Omicron enters

Lockdowns appear to be a thing of the past after the government announced that all of New Zealand would turn red in the traffic light system in the event of a community outbreak of Omicron.

“When we have evidence of Omicron transmission in the community, we will not use lockdowns, but the whole country will go red within 24 to 48 hours,” Jacinda Ardern said Thursday at a conference of press in New Plymouth.

“The red setting allows businesses to remain open and domestic travel to continue, but includes mask-wearing and gathering restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus and keep pressure on our healthcare system.”

A move to the red setting means gathering restrictions would be reimposed on certain places and businesses.

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A move to the red setting means gathering restrictions would be reimposed on certain places and businesses.

In a red frame, gathering restrictions would be reimposed on certain places and businesses that can currently, in orange settings, operate without such restrictions – as long as they participate in the vaccine pass system.

What can be done in red light with vaccine certificates

Limits of 100 people and social distancing of one meter would be required in hospitality establishments, public facilities, gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor events (which will also need to be seated) and for gatherings such as weddings and religious services.

* Covid-19: the whole country will turn red in the event of a community outbreak of Omicron
* Covid-19: MIQ worker contact tests positive, possible case of Omicron in Palmerston North
* Covid-19: Northland will switch to amber traffic light setting on Thursday evening

Early childhood education centers and schools can remain open with public health measures in place.

Higher education can also remain open with inoculations required on site alongside social distancing of one meter.

Working from home is encouraged, but close-contact businesses, including hairdressers, can operate under public health requirements.

Public facilities such as museums, zoos, libraries, gymnasiums and swimming pools can open, with capacity limits based on the number of people who can visit while maintaining a social distance of one meter.


The Chief Health Officer said parts of the Covid-19 traffic light system may need to be reinforced or adjusted in the event of an outbreak of Omicron in the community.

What happens when vaccination certificates are not used

If the vaccine pass system is not used by a business or organization in the red frame, hospitality venues will only be able to operate without contact and gatherings such as weddings will be limited to 25 people. This limit includes children, but not site personnel.

Close-contact businesses such as hairdressers, as well as gyms and any indoor and outdoor event, cannot open or continue.

Students attending higher education cannot access the site and must participate in distance education.

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