Covid 19 outbreak: what would life in red look like as an outbreak of Omicron looms?
Second Auckland Airport worker tests positive; The Palmerston North case has Omicron; 9 new cases in Nelson. Video / NZ Herald
New Zealand will go through a red light within 24-48 hours of Omicron entering the community – but what does life in red really look like?
As Northland now joins the rest of New Zealand at the orange light, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed there will be no lockdown when Omicron spreads widely.
Ardern said the government knew from the experience of other countries that it would only take 14 days for Omicron cases to jump from hundreds to thousands.
Most of those people who catch Omicron will have to self-isolate at home – with officials encouraging people to prepare.
Although the red light setting is not as restrictive as the previous alert level 3 and 4 lockdowns, there are still rules that businesses and people must follow.
Ardern said the use of masks, social distancing and restricted gathering sizes were the focus.
Red is the most restrictive traffic light setting, but domestic travel can continue. There would be no more borders around the regions, like the recent borders of Auckland.
The red light setting will be applied to areas where action is deemed necessary to protect vulnerable communities and the healthcare system from unsustainable hospitalizations of people with Covid-19.
In red, face coverings are mandatory when traveling on public transport, in retail and to some extent in education. Public facilities and outlets are open, with capacity limits.
With a vaccine pass, many businesses and events can accommodate up to 100 people, including hospitality, gyms, weddings and tangihanga. Without a pass, reception services must remain contactless and the aforementioned gatherings are limited to 25 people.
People should work from home where appropriate, while higher education, schools and childcare centers remain open with public health measures in place.
Tertiary students must study remotely if they do not have a vaccine pass.
Gyms and close-contact businesses like hairdressers and beauty salons can open red as long as public health measures are in place.
The orange setting is for areas where community transmission is putting pressure on the healthcare system.
The main change between orange and red is that, with vaccine passes, there are no limits on the size of gatherings for hospitality outlets or at home parties, weddings, tangihanga, gymnasiums, etc.
Without vaccine passes, hospitality is still contactless while gatherings and event size limits are limited to 50 people.
As at any other level, it is necessary to scan locations. Face masks are also mandatory on flights, public transport, in shops and in public places.
While public facilities and shops may open in orange, a distance of 1m should be used when traveling.
Workplaces, schools, CPEs and gymnasiums can open with public health
measures in place.
Just like in red, close-contact businesses and gyms can reopen as long as vaccine passes are used.
In terms of gatherings and events, up to 50 people can attend Home Gathering, Weddings, Tangihana, etc. if vaccine passes are not used.
The same rules apply to outdoor community gatherings like a community fair.