COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

New Zealand moves to the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the traffic lights, on 3 December. This new approach to COVID-19 will introduce more freedoms for vaccinated New Zealanders.

Key dates

  • 29 November — Cabinet announced the traffic lights settings for New Zealand.
  • 2 December — At 11:59pm, all of New Zealand will move to the framework.
    Check the settings for your area
  • 15 December — People travelling out of Auckland will need to be fully vaccinated, or have a negative test administered no more than 72 hours before departure, to leave Auckland and visit other parts of the country. This requirement will remain in place during the core summer period, until 17 January 2022.

From Alert Levels to traffic lights

We are moving to the next stage of our COVID-19 response. The COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) is central to our new minimise and protect strategy.

The framework will continue to protect New Zealanders, while also providing more certainty and new opportunities. It minimises the impact of 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 — and a response that focuses on minimising its 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 hard truth is that COVID-19 will spread around New Zealand, and we need to be prepared. The framework is our best tool to do this. It is intended to give as much certainty and stability as possible for people and businesses, reducing the need for widespread lockdowns.

Printable resources

Traffic light settings for your area

Find out what traffic light settings are in place around New Zealand.

Traffic light map

Key components of the COVID-19 Protection Framework


High rates of vaccination is New Zealand’s key tool in protecting people and minimising the spread of COVID-19, and central to the settings in the framework.

My Vaccine Pass

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

Capacity limits

Similar to the Alert Level settings, the capacity limits specified are based on 1 metre distancing.

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 in addition to the three levels, if needed to control high rates of transmission.

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.

Life at Red

At Red, action is needed to protect at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.

Life at Red

Life at Orange

At Orange, there will be community transmission, with pressure on our health system. The whole of health system is focussing  its resources, but can manage primary care, public health, and hospitals. There may also be an increasing risk for at-risk people.

Life at Orange

Life at Green

Green is when COVID-19 is across New Zealand, including sporadic imported cases. Community transmission is limited and COVID-19 hospitalisations will be at a manageable level. The health system will be ready to respond, including primary care, public health, and hospitals.

Life at Green

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