Auckland to enter the Covid Traffic Light System on December 15, 2021

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Boundary to open; freedom of movement for vaccinated people

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Media Conference (Screen Grab)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 17, 2021

The boundary setting of Auckland will change on December 15, 2021, allowing greater freedom of travel for people who are fully vaccinated and those showing a negative test result, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

She told a media conference in Wellington today that the country is getting prepared for freedom with 82% of New Zealanders fully vaccinated.

This compares well with 23% of the population fully vaccinated and our projections are that it would reach 90% by mid-December.

What is coming next month:
The Auckland boundary will formally lift at 11.59 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021
People travelling out of Auckland from December 15, 2021 will be covered by the vaccination or testing requirement up until January 17, 2021.
Police will have operational discretion on the enforcement for these rules and perform spot checks.
On the northern boundary, Police will work with iwi to ensure people can move, but also that the people of Northland have confidence in the checks that are in place.
It is intended that people breaking the rules will face an infringement fine of $1000.
Checks for travellers out of Auckland Airport will be done at check-in. Air New Zealand have made a vaccine certificate or test a requirement before New Zealanders can fly, and these requirements begin on December 15, 2021 also.
People on inter-island ferries will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative pre-departure test in order to travel between Wellington and Picton

Preparing for freedom
“From December 15, 2021, Aucklanders who have been vaccinated or tested will be able to reconnect with the rest of New Zealand in time for Christmas and Summer. To minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading from Auckland, travellers must be either fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. This requirement will be in place for the core summer period of December 15, 2021 to January 17, 2022,” Ms Ardern said.
Acknowledging that Aucklanders have faced restrictions for an extended period of time to keep the rest of New Zealand safe, she said that with increased rates of vaccination it is time to open up the ability to travel again.

Providing uncertainty 

Ms Ardern said that confirming December 15 as the date the boundary requirements change provides certainty. Aucklanders can now book summer travel and accommodation with confidence and businesses inside Auckland and around the rest of the country can plan for summer travellers.

“The boundary is of course two ways and hence the changes also mean that Aucklanders and Auckland businesses can start receiving New Zealanders from all over the country, allowing families and friends to reconnect and business to receive a much needed boost before Christmas. The Police will have operational discretion on the enforcement of these rules. They undertake random spot checks to enforce a range of laws on our roads, such as drink driving, and will take the same approach,” she said.

The Police will work with iwi on the Northern boundary and the gateway to Northland to ensure that people can move and the Northland people have confidence in the checks.

(Infographics by Newshub)

The situation in South Island

Ms Ardern said that the government has given special attention to the South Island.

The combination of the vaccine or testing requirement for Air New Zealand combined with the ability for the inter-islander to operate the same regime will provide solid measures to slow any spread to the South, she said.

“The Cabinet will confirm on November 29, 2021 its decision to move Auckland into the new Traffic Light System which we expect will occur soon after that day. Auckland will initially move into Red, the highest level in the traffic light. We are also confirming that the rest of the country will move into the framework at the same time as Auckland. Those parts of the country with lower vaccination rates will move into the new system at Red, which has greater protections than the current Alert Level 2, meaning there will be stronger measures to minimise the risk of spread,” she said.

According to Ms Ardern, this decision balances the need to give Aucklander the ability to move and comfort to the rest of New Zealand that the government is taking steps to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Date set to prepare

“We have deliberately set the date for the boundary restrictions to change in a month’s time in order to give the rest of New Zealand time to move into the safer Traffic Light System and the chance to increase vaccination rates even further. 82% of New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated compared to just 23% when Delta arrived three months ago. Therefore, we are in a much safer position to ease boundary restrictions. We will be in an even safer position by mid-December when it’s expected New Zealand as a whole will be around 90% fully vaccinated,” Ms Ardern said.

She said that the steps taken by the government thus far have undeniably saved lives and slowed the spread of the virus that otherwise could have moved through the country very quickly. But elimination and the alert levels were never intended as a forever strategy. High vaccination rates now offer us the ability to change our approach and move into the next chapter of New Zealand’s Covid response,” she said.

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