NZ to Move to Traffic Light Red at 11:59PM Sunday Among Growing Omicron Threat

All of New Zealand will move to Traffic Light setting Red from 11:59PM tonight following the confirmation of ten more Omicron variant cases in the Nelson-Marlborough region.

In a special briefing this morning Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined how the family cluster flew to Auckland on Thursday January 13 to attend a wedding and other events over the weekend. “Initial estimates suggest that there were well over 100 people at these events. This cluster has already lead to the infection of a fully vaccinated Air New Zealand flight attendant”, she said. The flight attendant had worked four additional flights while infectious, and there is also a detected case who was at the wedding.

Because the link to this family cluster and the border has not been identified, and the possibility of the Omicron variant circulating in Auckland and the Nelson-Marlborough region, the whole of New Zealand will move to the Traffic Light Red setting from 11:59PM tonight.

The Prime Minister requested that people get a booster shot as soon as possible to get a head start on the outbreak, saying that at 56% of eligible people having their booster shot, the number needs to get higher quicker. She also reminded parents and caregivers that children aged 5+ are eligible to be vaccinated and encouraged them to “seek out information to help you make that important decision”.

Citing overseas evidence she said that not moving early can lead to a high number of cases. She emphasised that the Red setting is not a lockdown but focuses on high risk areas such as hospitality, events, and public spaces.

At the Red setting hospitality customers must be separated and seated, gatherings will be limited to 100 vaccinated people or 25 if that includes the unvaccinated. Mask wearing and distancing must be maintained. Businesses and work places remain open but workers may work from home if the workplace deems it appropriate. Education centers remain open with extra public health measures, including mask wearing for everyone from Year 4 and up. Schools will return as planned.

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Image Credit: Jacinda Ardern / Facebook – New Zealand Government