PM Jacinda Ardern reveals summer 'traffic light' settings for regions around New Zealand

Auckland will move to the orange traffic light setting at 11.59pm on Thursday December 30.

"Cautious optimism" is how PM Jacinda Ardern describes the city's falling Covid case numbers under the traffic light system.

Cabinet undertook its first review of the new Covid-19 framework today, Ardern said, and it had been encouraging to see a decline in cases.

Remaining areas in red, excluding Northland will also move to orange at 11.59pm on Thursday December 30.

Other regions at red have an additional period of time for second doses to be administered, Ardern said.

Vaccine passes will be in use up and down the country, Ardern said, and people will be able to gather together because it is safe to do so.

Ardern announced the decisions after Cabinet met today.

Cases and hospitalisations are all running slightly under the levels predicted, Ardern said.
The country is around 47,000 vaccines away from hitting the 90 percent target, the prime minister said.

Areas outside of Auckland that are in red, won't reach rates of vaccination until mid December, she said.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Health reported 101 new Covid-19 cases and 61 people with the virus in hospital, four of who are in ICU.

Today's Covid cases are in Auckland (97), Bay of Plenty (1), Taranaki (1), Nelson-Marlborough (1) and Canterbury (1).

Ardern told RNZ this morning it was still early days of transitioning into the traffic light system and they wanted to make sure they saw the full impact of that before easing more.

"We will take an approach that will stand us in good stead. One thing we are mindful of is if you do move too soon you run the risk of escalating cases and you end up in higher restrictions. We want to go the distance."

Te Pūnaha Matatini Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank has also cautioned that 10 days was still a bit too early to judge whether the move from lockdown to traffic lights had impacted on the outbreak.

"Over time if cases in Auckland remain at a manageable level or even continue to fall I think there would be a strong case for moving Auckland to orange. But I think a cautious approach is warranted because we are still yet to see what effect it is going to have."

He said it was also important to keep cases as low as possible ahead of Auckland's boundary re-opening and summer travel – to reduce the risk of Covid-positive people getting to low vaccinated regions.

Today's decisions come two days before Auckland's boundaries are due to re-open - from Wednesday people can move in and out of the city if they are vaccinated, or have a negative Covid-19 test. Rapid antigen testing will also be available from Wednesday at pharmacies for those wanting to test themselves before travelling for summer.

For more information visit

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.