New Zealand goes orange

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New Zealand has moved from red to orange under the government’s covid alert framework. It means you have to wear a facemask in retail settings, but not when visiting a bar or dancing.

“The revised COVID-19 Protection Framework we introduced three weeks ago has effectively managed the Omicron outbreak at Red,” Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a sustained reduction in cases and hospitalisations despite the relaxation of settings, so we’re confident a move to Orange can lock in those gains while helping the country return to a greater degree of normality. 

“Under Orange there are no indoor capacity limits and the seated and separated rule for hospitality venues lifts, so bars, cafes and restaurants are able to fill up again. 

“Wearing a face mask at Orange is still important, especially with capacity limits removed.  People are required to wear a face mask in many indoor settings. Next to being vaccinated and having a booster, face masks are our main defence against COVID-19 at Orange.

Hipkins can’t answer most of the questions…

“We know this shift down to Orange will be welcome news to many as we head into Easter weekend and the school holidays and connect with loved ones.

Moving to orange in the Covid traffic light setting is good news, BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope says.

Hope welcomed the fact that businesses that were impacted under the red setting would now be able to operate more fully.”

Today’s change in settings sends a strong signal from the Government that we are moving back to living more normally after two years – a signal that will be welcomed by all business.”

Businesses would like to have more clarity around what might be required in the near future for the country to move to the green setting, as this remains an important signal for international travellers and our tourism sector.”

There is also concern at too much inconsistency in mask requirements across different kinds of businesses, and we would like to see more consistent guidance issued,” Hope said.  

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