COVID-19 Protection Framework retired NZ moves forward with certainty

Prime Minister COVID-19 Response
  • The COVID-19 Protection Framework ends at 11.59pm tonight, Monday 12 September
  • All mask wearing requirements removed, except in healthcare and aged care facilities
  • Only COVID-19 positive individuals required to isolate for seven days, household contacts no longer need to 
  • All Government vaccine mandates to end in two weeks on 26 September
  • Removal of all vaccination requirements for incoming travellers and air crew
  • Support for business and workers to continue through leave support payments
  • All New Zealanders aged 65 and over, and Māori and Pacific aged 50 and over, to have automatic access to COVID anti-virals if they test positive

The COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the traffic light system, will be removed from 11.59pm tonight, Monday 12 September, so all New Zealanders can continue to move forward with certainty, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

“It’s time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management, and live without the extraordinary measures we have previously used,” Jacinda Ardern 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 most recent health advice now tells us that with the lowest cases and hospitalisations since February, our population well vaccinated, and expanded access to anti-viral medicines, New Zealand is in a position to move forward. 

“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.

“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.  

“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 ends, and the requirement to test on day 0/1 and 5/6 will now just be encouraged.

“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,” Jacinda 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,” Ayesha 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,” Ayesha Verrall said.

“There is no question – thousands of lives have been saved by the efforts of Kiwis. Be it iwi and Maori health providers, Pacifica organisations, aged care providers, businesses or the sacrifices of New Zealanders separated from loved ones, everyone played a part.

“So today, I say again to everyone, from the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Notes to the editor:

  • From Tuesday we will now move to weekly COVID reporting, similar to Australia. 
  • The current rolling 7 day average of hospitalisations is 241, the lowest since February and down from 273 this time last week. There are 225 current hospitalisations. There have been a total of 1,950 deaths, a 7 day rolling average of 5.
  • People visiting the following healthcare settings will be required to wear a mask:
    • primary care
    • urgent care
    • hospitals
    • pharmacies
    • aged residential care
    • disability-related residential care
  • The requirement excludes counselling, mental health and addiction services.
  • More information can be found at the Unite Against COVID-19 website.