Traffic light system: New Zealand to try new tactic against COVID
- Lockdown in New Zealand's largest city came to an end
- New Zealand entered into a new phase with respect to its handling of the pandemic
- Delta variant has been spreading in New Zealand
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that bars, restaurants and gyms can reopen in Auckland from early December. She, however, added that customers will be required to show proof they've been fully vaccinated.
The latest announcement means that the last remaining portion of a lockdown that began in the nation's largest city in August came to an end.
This also means that New Zealand entered into a new phase with respect to its handling of the pandemic. This new phase will require the people around the country to be fully vaccinated in order to do the littlest of things.
Ardern said New Zealand would move into a new pandemic “traffic light” system based around the use of vaccine passports from late Dec. 2.
The system will mark an end to the lockdowns which New Zealand used effectively to completely eliminate virus outbreaks during the first 18 months of the pandemic. They, however, failed to control the outbreak of the delta variant.
Ardern last month set an ambitious target of getting 90% of all eligible people across each of 20 health districts fully vaccinated before moving to the new system.
The current outbreak appears to have stabilized somewhat with about 200 new infections reported each day, most of them in Auckland.
“The hard truth is that delta is here and it is not going away,” Ardern said. “And while no country to date has been able to eliminate delta completely once it's arrived, New Zealand is in a better position than most to tackle it.”
The traffic light system is designed to indicate where outbreaks are putting pressure on the health system. A green designation would impose few restrictions, orange would require more mask wearing and distancing, while red would limit gathering sizes even with vaccination certificates.
Auckland would initially enter the new system under a red light, while other regions would enter under red or orange.
(With inputs from Associated Press)