January 26, 2022

Traffic lights to turn on from 3rd Dec, businesses to get one-off payment

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The traffic lights under the Covid-19 Protection Framework will be turned on for all of New Zealand on Friday, 3rd Dec., and affected businesses will receive extra transitional payment.

The levels at which different parts of New Zealand will move forward have been announced today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move in at Red.

The rest of the North Island and whole of the South Island will move in at Orange.

“On Friday the traffic lights are turned on for all of New Zealand, as we move forward safely into the next phase of our world-leading COVID-19 response,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Other than the existing Auckland boundary, which lifts on January 17, there will be no new restrictions on travel between regions,” she added.

“The factors considered when setting the colours in each region include vaccination, the state of the health system, testing, contact tracing and case management capacity, as well as the rate and effect of COVID-19 transmission…

“The certainty and stability of the traffic lights replaces the sudden lockdowns and restrictions of Alert Levels. Our schools will stay open at every colour and businesses will have protection through My Vaccine Passes to keep operating.” 

Explaining the reasons behind some regions moving to red, she said “Red is the highest level in the new system, which is why Auckland has moved in at Red as the epicentre of the current outbreak, and we’ve taken strong account of vaccination rates and vulnerable populations in the other regions at Red.

“Red provides extra protections against COVID-19 such as requiring both Vaccine Passes and some capacity limits in the most-high risk settings – that’s because if someone has COVID-19, the virus will find it harder to spread among fewer people who are at a distance.”

As the whole of South Island and most of North Island moves into Orange from Friday, “we are not moving any regions to Green immediately while we continue to get vaccination rates up and transition the country to the new framework.”

Cabinet will review settings and provide an update on Monday 13 December. The next update by Ministers will be on Monday 17 January, and will continue on a fortnightly basis.

Meanwhile, the government has also announced a new one-off transition payment that will be made available particularly for affected businesses in Auckland, Waikato and Northland to acknowledge the restrictions in place prior to shifting to the new framework.

“The one-off transition payment will be activated through the Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) system criteria and be available on December 10,” Grant Robertson said.

This payment is at a higher base rate than the current RSP and will be $4,000 per business plus $400 per FTE up to a cap of 50 FTEs – a maximum payment of $24,000. Treasury has estimated the likely total cost of the payment to be between $350 and $490 million.

This payment is a recognition of the long period of time businesses in Auckland in particular have spent with restrictions in place prior to shifting to the new framework.

For more details of Covid-19 Protection Framework and how it operates, click here