Wellington, Nov 29 (IANS): New Zealand moves to "traffic light" Covid-19 Protection Framework on Friday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announcing the levels at which different parts of New Zealand will move forward.
Northland, Auckland, Taupo and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Opotiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move in at Red, with the rest of the North Island moving in at Orange, Ardern told a press conference.
The whole of the South Island will move in at Orange, she said, adding cautious approach will be taken initially as the country transitions into the new framework, Xinhua news agency reported.
"On Friday the traffic lights are turned on for all of New Zealand," said the prime minister.
She said New Zealand has the lowest case and death rates in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and among the highest rates of vaccination in the world.
The certainty and stability of the traffic lights replace the sudden lockdowns and restrictions of Alert Levels, Ardern said, adding schools will stay open at every colour and businesses will have protection through 'My Vaccine Passes' to keep operating.
"Other than the existing Auckland boundary, which lifts on January 17, there will be no new restrictions on travel between regions," she said.
Red is the highest level in the new system, which is why Auckland has moved in at Red as the epicenter of the current outbreak, she added.
Red provides extra protections against Covid such as requiring both Vaccine Passes and some capacity limits in the most-high risk settings -- that's because if someone has Covid, the virus will find it harder to spread among fewer people who are at a distance, Ardern said.
"As we see what happens to cases and vaccination levels, we can look to move regions down to Orange over time, where there are no gathering limits for those who are using vaccine passes," she added.
New Zealand reported 182 new Delta variant cases of Covid in the community on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country's current community outbreak to 8,298.
To date, 92 per cent of eligible people in New Zealand have received their first dose and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated, it said.