Thursday, June 20, 2024

COVID traffic lights go out

The COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the traffic light system, will be removed from 11.59pm tonight, Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has announced.

And from tomorrow morning, the nation will now move to weekly COVID-19 case reporting, similar to Australia. 

“It’s time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management, and live without the extraordinary measures we have previously used,” the Prime Minister said.

“Today marks a milestone in our response. Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.

“For the first time in two years we can approach summer with the much needed certainty New Zealanders and business need, helping to drive greater economic activity critical to our economic recovery.”

The Prime Minister said the most recent health advice had told us that with the lowest cases and hospitalisations since February, the nation is well vaccinated and in a position to move forward. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks on the steps of parliament during the proclamation of accession ceremony to acknowledge King Charles III yesterday.

“You will no longer be required by Government to wear a mask anywhere, except in healthcare settings like hospitals, GPs and aged residential care facilities,” said Ms Ardern.

“Some places, such as workplaces, special events, or marae may ask you to wear a mask, but this will be at their discretion and no longer a Government requirement. Please respect those who choose to keep wearing masks as a form of protection.”

She said all remaining Government vaccine mandates will end in two weeks on 26 September. It will now be an employer’s discretion as to whether they require their workforce to be vaccinated.

Vaccination requirements for all travellers arriving into New Zealand including air crew also end, and the requirement to test on day 0/1 and 5/6 will now just be encouraged, the Prime Minister said.

“Our 7 day isolation period for COVID cases will remain.”

“However, the 7-day isolation period will now only be required for those who test positive for COVID-19. Their household contacts will only be asked to undertake a daily RAT test before going about their life as normal.

“In short, we now move on to a simple two requirements system of masks in healthcare settings and 7 days isolation for positive cases only,” Ms Ardern said.

COVID-19 Minister, Ayesha Verrall also announced today a significant additional purchase of 40,000 more anti-viral medicine courses, expected to enter New Zealand in the next few days. 

“We are giving greater access to anti-viral medicines for New Zealanders, and have secured agreements that provide a significant boost to our supply for the long term,” Dr Verrall said. 

“So now, anyone over the age of 65, and Māori and Pacific people over the age of 50, or anyone who meets Pharmac requirements, can access the treatment in the early stages of contracting the virus.

“This means more than double the number of New Zealanders will be able to access these medicines if they need them than previously,” she said.

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