Category : News
Author: Ireland Hendry-Tennent

All of New Zealand is moving to the red traffic light setting after the Prime Minister confirmed Omicron is spreading in the community. 

Speaking at an unscheduled and urgent press conference on Sunday, Jacinda Ardern revealed nine cases in Nelson have now been confirmed as having the highly transmissible variant. 

Ardern said the cases are all from one household and travelled to Auckland on January 13 for a wedding.

The entire country is moving to the highest traffic light setting at 11:59pm on Sunday. 

Here's what you can and can't do in the new setting. 

Under the red traffic light setting fully vaccinated New Zealanders have more freedoms than unvaccinated people. 

Gatherings and visits 

Vaccinated people can gather at home or at venues with a limit of 100 people and physical distancing. The limit applies to both indoor and outdoor venues. It Includes children, but not staff.

For unvaccinated people, they can gather at home or at venues that don't require vaccine passes with a limit of 25 people and physical distancing. 


Anyone can travel around the country in the red setting for any reason. You don't need to be vaccinated or have a negative test to travel unless you are travelling by airline or ferry. 

Businesses and workplaces

Businesses can open in the red setting with and without vaccine mandates. Employers will have to follow gathering limits. 


Hospitality venues that use vaccine certificates can open to up to 100 people, but hospitality businesses that choose not to check vaccination status will have to be contactless. 


Shops, including outdoor markets, banks and takeaway-only businesses can open with capacity limits based on 1-metre distancing.

Some retail businesses can choose to require vaccine passes but this doesn't affect capacity limits. 


Education can open at red but may have to follow public health measures such as wearing a face covering.

Everyone will always be able to access basic needs like food and medical care. Supermarkets and dairies are not allowed to prevent access based on vaccination status.

Face masks 

Under the red setting it is mandatory to wear a face-covering in the following settings: 

  • on domestic flights
  • on public transport and at arrival and departure points, this includes Cook Strait Ferries and school transport but does not include designated carriages on specified Kiwirail services
  • in taxis or ride share vehicles
  • inside a retail business, for example supermarkets, shopping malls, pharmacies, petrol stations, and takeaway food stores
  • inside public venues or facilities, such as museums and libraries, but not at swimming pools
  • at a vet clinic
  • in an indoor setting at schools, for example a classroom and assemblies. This includes students in years 4 to 13 and staff
  • inside at tertiary education facilities or when a visitor to a licensed early childhood service
  • in the public areas within courts, tribunals, local and central government agencies, social service providers, and NZ Police
  • in the public area of premises operated by NZ Post Limited
  • when visiting a health care service, for example a healthcare or aged care facility.

More information about the red setting can be found on the Unite Against COVID website.

Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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