COVID-19 Protection Framework – Introduction

About the framework 

The COVID-19 Protection Framework will replace the current Alert Level system used by the government to respond to COVID-19 in New Zealand.  

It uses a 3-level approach to manage COVID-19 in the community: 

  • Green –  used when there’s limited COVID-19 in the community, hospitalisations are at a manageable level, the health system is ready to respond. 
  • Orange – used when there’s increasing community transmission of COVID-19, the whole health system has focused its resources but can manage the outbreak, there is an increasing risk to the public.  
  • Red – used when action is needed to protect the health system and to protect at-risk populations.  

We can move up levels when needed to control outbreaks. The framework is more flexible than the current Alert Level system. It provides vaccinated people more freedom. 

At all levels, businesses, retail, and public facilities will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people. Businesses that are only open to vaccinated customers pose a lower risk. 

Public health measures 

Testing, contact tracing and isolation continue as key tools to minimise any spread of the virus. 

Localised lockdowns will still be an option if there is rapid growth in cases. There may still be a need to use wider lockdowns. 

To shift between levels, we will consider: 

  • vaccination coverage 
  • capacity of the health and disability system 
  • testing, contact tracing and case management capacity, and 
  • the transmission of COVID-19 within the community, including its impact on key populations. 
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