Updates to the COVID-19 response

With cases and hospitalisations low, access to new medicines, and high vaccination levels, it’s now safe to move on from the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system).

From 11:59pm on 12 September 2022, the COVID-19 Protection Framework will be removed.

Protecting lives and livelihoods remains the goal of the Government’s COVID-19 response. New Zealand is moving forward with certainty. 

What does removing the COVID-19 Protection Framework mean?


  • Only people who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for seven days. Household contacts are recommended to take a Rapid Antigen Test every day for five days. Provided they test negative, they will be able to go about daily life as normal.

Face masks

  • Masks will not be required anywhere, except when visiting certain healthcare facilities like hospitals, GPs, pharmacies, and aged care residential facilities. The Ministry of Health will provide detailed information about when you need to wear a face mask on their website.
  • Workplaces, special events, places of worship, or marae may ask people to wear a mask as a condition of entry.
  • Because masks are still an effective tool for reducing the spread of COVID and other respiratory illnesses, the Government will continue to supply them for free when picking up RATs and in many other sites.


  • All remaining Government vaccine mandates will now end.
  • The last workforce with a Government vaccine mandate is health and disability workers. This will end on 11:59pm, 26 September 2022.
  • Some employers may still require workers to be vaccinated due to their responsibilities under health and safety legislation.

International travel

  • Vaccination requirements for all travellers arriving into New Zealand will also end, including air crew, from 11:59pm, 12 September.
  • People arriving in New Zealand from overseas will continue to receive free RATs at the airport and will be encouraged to test on day 0/1 and 5/6.

COVID-19 medicines

  • Antiviral medicines will be available for free to any New Zealander 65 and over who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • For Māori and Pacific peoples, these medicines will be available for free to anyone aged 50 and over. In addition, anyone with three high-risk conditions is eligible for free antivirals.

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