COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

The COVID-19 Protection Framework (also known as the traffic light system) sets out our plan to manage life with Omicron while reducing the impact of future outbreaks.

All of New Zealand is at Orange

Find out what you need to do:

Life at Orange

Face masks at Orange

From Alert Levels to traffic lights

The framework will continue to protect New Zealanders, while also providing more certainty and new opportunities.

It minimises the impact and provides protection from COVID-19 through 3 settings — Red, Orange and Green.

Minimisation means we are aiming to keep the spread of COVID-19 and hospitilisations at as low a level as possible. Outbreaks will be contained and controlled, and if practical, stamped out. There will likely be some level of cases in the community on an ongoing basis.

Protection means that we will protect people from the virus, with vaccination, infection prevention and control, and general public health measures (for example contact tracing, case management and testing). Response will also focus on minimising significant health impacts through treatment and support. We will also protect people’s health, by ensuring we are not letting cases go to the point where the impacts have flow-on effects to impact other health services.

The framework is intended to give as much certainty and stability as possible for people and businesses, reducing the need for widespread lockdowns.

Key components of the COVID-19 Protection Framework


A high vaccination rate is a key tool in protecting people and minimising the spread of COVID-19. Getting vaccinated reduces the likeliness of getting really sick, going to hospital or passing COVID-19 on to others.

There are places where vaccination for workers is required, for example within the border, prisons, and health and disability sectors.

Capacity limits

Specified limits are based on 1 metre distancing, which means 1 metre square of space for each person (the number of people is limited by the space available). It does not mean people must remain 1 metre apart from others.

Capacity limits include everyone in a defined space, excluding workers (paid and unpaid).

Localised protections and lockdowns

Under the framework localised lockdowns and protections can be used to control high rates of transmission.

The restrictions implemented will consider specific circumstances and the nature of the public health response.

They could include:

  • stay at home orders
  • closure of premises, for example schools and retail
  • restrictions on gatherings
  • restrictions on movement in and out of the lockdown area.

Location not specified

If your business, service, or activity is not captured specifically in the Framework you must follow the public health measures specified in the general settings.

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