COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

New Zealand is in the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the traffic lights. This new approach to COVID-19 will introduce more freedoms for vaccinated New Zealanders.

Key dates

  • 15 December — People travelling out of Auckland to other parts of the country will need to be fully vaccinated, or have a negative COVID-19 test administered no more than 72 hours before departure. This requirement will be in place until 17 January 2022.

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 - Green, Orange and Red.

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, health, disability, education sectors, and at hospitality, events, gyms and close-proximity businesses.

It is also required for businesses that are using My Vaccine Pass for their customers. The vaccination assessment tool is a legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace.

My Vaccine Pass

My Vaccine Pass is the official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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). A group of people that has people with and without My Vaccine Pass (excluding children), must follow the lower capacity limit specified for no My Vaccine Pass.

Record keeping

QR codes issued by the NZ Government legally must be displayed in workplaces and on public transport to enable the use of the NZ COVID Tracer app for contact tracing.

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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