Tuesday, April 23, 2024

COVID traffic light stalls at Red

COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins says with Omicron “taking hold” in our regions, now is not the time for the nation to move to Orange, despite fewer cases being recorded nationally.

“Four weeks ago we were averaging around 20,000 cases a day, compared to today where that average is just over 13,000. But while the drop in cases is mainly in Auckland and Wellington, other places aren’t yet in the same position,” the Minister said.

He said hospitalisations had dropped in Auckland, but continued to plateau in regions like Canterbury, Waikato and Northland.

“As a result, the public health advice is that it is not yet the time to ease the existing restrictions and drop down to Orange. Ministers will review these settings again next week.”

“We have put this check in place due to the pace at which we are seeing the COVID-19 situation changing, and acknowledging that Easter and the upcoming school holidays are an important time for businesses – particularly those in our tourist regions,” Mr Hipkins said.

From midnight tonight, New Zealanders will no longer need to use My Vaccine Pass. Businesses will still be able to use the system if they choose to but from tonight, it’s not required, he confirmed.

Government vaccine mandates for all sectors except health and care workers, prison staff, and border workers will be removed from tonight. They remain for health and care workers and prison staff because they come into contact with a lot of people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and for our border workers because they are the first people who would likely be exposed to any new variant of concern that emerges internationally.”

“Our COVID-19 response has always prioritised the health of kiwis by ensuring we’re protecting our immunocompromised and high-risk members in our communities.” 

Staying at Red means continuing to wear a face mask in most indoor settings, limiting indoor capacity to 200, and if you catch COVID-19 – or someone you live with does – isolating for 7 days.

“Next to being vaccinated and having a booster, face masks are our best defence against COVID-19. Wearing them can reduce new cases of the virus by as much as 53%. That means by putting on a face mask you are contributing to lowering our case numbers, lowering the numbers of people in hospital, and lowering the number of deaths,” Mr Hipkins said.

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