Vaccine target and traffic light system announced

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo. RNZ. Samuel Rillstone.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has set a 90 percent vaccination rate target for each DHB across New Zealand before a new traffic light system will come into place.

The Government has announced the plans as part of the new Covid-19 Protection Framework to re-open the country.

Vaccinated New Zealanders will regain everyday freedoms when the country moves to the new framework. The traffic light system will signify a move away from nationwide lockdowns as the main measure to stop the virus spreading.

The new traffic light framework will allow businesses previously considered high-risk to fully open to vaccinated customers at green and orange and continue to operate with some restrictions at red.

Businesses that choose to open to the unvaccinated will face restrictions in order to suppress the virus amongst those most likely to have it.

Speaking to the nation today, Ardern put an emphasis on the tool of vaccines and the “tentacles” of the more transmissible Delta variant forcing a step away from the current elimination approach, once vaccination rates hit 90 per cent in regions.

“Very few countries have had the opportunity to vaccinate people before Covid was in every corner of their communities,” says Ardern. “We can.

“Once we have done that, we then need to make sure we keep using that tool to protect ourselves as we gradually and carefully open up.

“Not all countries have had that chance. And some, have opened up with vaccines very quickly, or without any other public health measures in place.

She says the new framework plans to minimise the threat of and protect New Zealanders against Covid-19.

“Minimisation means that we are aiming to keep the spread of Covid-19 as low as possible. That while there will be some level of cases in the community on an ongoing basis, we will work to contain and control any outbreaks, and if practical to do so, stamp them out.

“Protection means that we won’t just treat Covid like a seasonal illness. We will protect people from it with vaccination, management, and a response that focusses on minimising the significant health impacts we know it can have.”

Auckland will be able to move out of current restrictions at an accelerated rate, once the 90 per cent target has been met.

Cabinet will review the vaccination progress on Monday, November 29.

“Our strategy, moving forward, is to minimise and protect,” says Ardern.

“Our alert level system has chartered us through a global pandemic in a way that kept us relatively free from the virus, and we now have our playbook written if we ever needed it again.

“But now we have vaccines. And we cannot ask vaccinated people to stay home forever. So now we need a new playbook to reflect a population protected from Covid.

“That’s what this is.”

On top of the new framework, the Government is also providing up to $940 million per fortnight to support businesses through the challenging period, particularly those in Auckland. $120 million is also being provided to accelerate Māori vaccination rates in the coming weeks.

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