Welcome to life under the new orange level of pandemic controls

EXPLAINER: Welcome to life under orange, where your vaccine pass will be a ticket to new freedoms from pandemic controls.

New Zealand moved to the new traffic light system on Friday, with much of the country operating under the new orange level of restrictions.

It will mean greater freedoms for many people, but also presents a series of new rules and regulations for people to negotiate.

The new system also divides the country into the vaccinated and unvaccinated, with people who have been double jabbed enjoying greater access to many services.

READ MORE:
* Covid-19: Vaccine certificates needed at libraries and pools in Christchurch
* Covid-19: How bars and restaurants will work under the traffic light system
* Covid-19: How workplaces will operate under the new traffic light system

A large part of the country is now under the new orange level, except for Auckland, Northland, and an area across the centre of the North Island from Whanganui in the west, through Taupō and to the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne in the east, which is now under the stricter red level.

What is the vaccine pass?

The vaccine pass, either printed out or displayed on your phone screen, will be an essential part of everyday life under the new orange level.

Officially known as “My Vaccine Pass”, it is a QR code that can be scanned to prove you are double vaccinated.

It can be obtained through the Government’s My Covid Record website.

You will have to get used to presenting your vaccine pass for scanning at restaurants, cafes, bars and venues to get access or service. You may also be asked to provide a second form of identification to prove the vaccine pass is yours.

If you go for a coffee, your pass could be scanned at the counter or if you go to a restaurant it may be scanned once you are at the table.

Children aged under 12 years and three months do not need to provide a vaccine pass. Businesses will have to use their judgement on whether someone is under that age limit. The government advice states they can ask the child their age, their date of birth or to see their school ID.

What will going out to the theatre, a gallery or a bar be like under the new orange level?

Ticketed or controlled events like plays and concerts can only go ahead if they use the vaccine pass, but will have no limits on the number of fully vaccinated people that can attend.

Hospitality venues, such as Fat Eddie's in central Christchurch, will require customers to show a vaccine pass.

Supplied

Hospitality venues, such as Fat Eddie’s in central Christchurch, will require customers to show a vaccine pass.

Public facilities like libraries, art galleries, swimming pools and recreation centres will have capacity limits based on 1-metre distancing rules.

In contrast to venues like cinemas and theatres, the capacity limit is not lifted if the owner of a public facility chooses to use the vaccine pass system.

Cafes, bars and restaurants can only fully open for business if they use the vaccine pass system. If they do not use the system, they can only offer deliveries or contactless pick up. Masks will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged.

Nightclubs and sports club bars can operate without restrictions if they use the vaccine pass system.

Can I still go on holiday?

You can visit most of the country, but travel in and out of Auckland is restricted until December 15.

Air New Zealand, Cook Strait ferries and other travel operators may ask to see your vaccine pass or a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of your journey before you board. This does not apply to under 12s.

Hotels, motels, backpackers and campgrounds can open under the orange system with no capacity limits or vaccine pass requirements. Accommodation that has “customer-facing food and beverage services” must follow the same rules as restaurants, bars or cafes.

What about playing sport?

Outdoor and indoor sports can go ahead with no limits on the number of people if the venue uses the vaccine pass system. If the venue decides not to use the pass, only 50 people can attend each sporting event.

Recreation spaces like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms, gyms, yoga studios, ice skating rinks and bowling alleys can only open if they use the vaccine pass system. Members-only clubs for sports like golf and tennis can choose to use the pass.

Parks, playgrounds, and places like skate parks will be open to everyone.

What about access to essential services like shops and schools?

Shops, including outdoor farmers markets and banks, will have capacity limits based on the 1m distancing rules. They can choose to use the vaccine pass system or not, but that will not change the capacity limits.

People will still be required to use the scanning app under the new traffic light system, as this pair did in Wellington.

Ross Giblin/Stuff

People will still be required to use the scanning app under the new traffic light system, as this pair did in Wellington.

Businesses like hairdressers, massage therapists and beauty salons can only open if they use the vaccine pass system because clients come into such close proximity with staff members.

Schools and kura will not move to the traffic light system until January 1, 2022, and will remain at alert level 2 during the remainder of this term.

This means they will keep the current public health measures in place for the rest of the year.

Only parents and caregivers with the vaccine pass will be allowed to enter playgroups. At early childhood centres, social distancing measures will be in place but there will be no vaccine pass requirements for parents and caregivers.

STUFF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed that Auckland and some low-vaccinated regions will enter the new Covid-19 Protection Framework at the red setting, with the rest of the country doing so at the orange setting.

The new rules ensure that the hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated people will still be able to access essential services.

Nationally, as of 23 November, there are 355,466 eligible people who have had no doses of the vaccine. People with one dose will be treated the same as those with no doses. They will have to wait until they are double vaccinated to get a vaccine pass and enjoy the new freedoms.

People will not be required to show their vaccine pass at places like supermarkets, dairies, food banks, pharmacies, petrol stations, healthcare services, aged care services and social housing complexes.

Children, students, parents and caregivers will not need to use their vaccine passes to access schools, early childhood education centres, school transport and out of school services.

The My Vaccine Pass will mean greater freedoms for many people, but also presents a series of new rules and regulations for people to negotiate.

Stuff

The My Vaccine Pass will mean greater freedoms for many people, but also presents a series of new rules and regulations for people to negotiate.

What will funerals and weddings look like under the new system?

Weddings, civil unions, funerals, tangihanga, religious services and house parties can all go ahead under the new orange level.

It is up to family members if they use the vaccine system for funerals and weddings.

If the vaccine pass system is used, there is no limit on the number of people that can attend.

If the system is not used, a maximum of 50 people can attend, but that could be lower as the gathering will have to follow 1m physical distancing rules. A smaller venue would have a smaller capacity limit.

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