COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

The COVID-19 Protection Framework has replaced the Alert Level system It provides more flexibility for businesses as New Zealand manages COVID-19 in the community.

About the framework

We’ve moved to the next stage of our COVID-19 response.

The traffic light settings allows businesses to open and operate in a way that is as close to normal for vaccinated people while minimising the virus’ spread. This helps keep vulnerable people and those that can’t be vaccinated right now safe.

The Framework empowers people and business to take responsibility for keeping COVID-19 down. Having a highly vaccinated population that regularly uses their My Vaccine Pass means we will be better able to protect our hospitals and health system.

Framework settings

The framework will continue to protect New Zealanders, while also providing more certainty and new opportunities. It minimises the impact and provides protection from COVID-19 through three settings - Green, Orange and Red.




Red will be used if there’s a need to protect both at-risk people and our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.

Face coverings will be mandatory in some places including on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public facilities, and encouraged elsewhere.
Orange will be used when there’s increasing community transmission of COVID-19.

Face coverings will be mandatory in some places including on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public facilities, and encouraged elsewhere.
Green will be used when there are some COVID-19 cases in the community.

Face coverings will be mandatory on flights.

What it means for business

  • The requirements apply by activity. If your business carries out a number of different activities, you may need to apply different rules. For example, a mall may have a food court (food and beverage rules apply), general retail (retail rules), and a supermarket (which people must be able to access without presenting a My Vaccine Pass).
  • Businesses must display posters advertising if they require people entering to have a My Vaccine Pass
  • Information on My Vaccine Pass and the verifier app.

Checking My Vaccine Pass 

  • Businesses and services may switch between requiring My Vaccine Passes and not requiring My Vaccine Passes. They will need to clean the premises/space between the two groups, and ensure they follow the appropriate rules relating to the use of My Vaccine Passes or not requiring My Vaccine Passes. You must clearly communicate what settings you are operating under, and display any required signage. For example, a conference venue can host a conference for a small group of people under the unvaccinated rules (including number limits), clean, and they can then host a larger conference for vaccinated attendees.

The capacity limits apply to the premises or a defined space. Limits include all attendees, but not workers.

  • A defined space is an indoor area that has no direct airflow to another indoor area that is being used; or an outdoor area that is separated from other outdoor areas by 2 metres. Separate spaces must be managed so that, so far as is reasonably practicable, groups do not mix entering, leaving, or using the premises.
  • Some capacity limits are based on 1 metre distancing. This means the maximum number of people who could occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. People do not need to stand 1 metre apart.
  • There is one exception to how capacity limits are applied. If you are holding a gathering at a private dwelling or house you only need to adhere to the maximum number limit, regardless of the size of the house.
  • For some types of businesses there are lower capacity limits for if they do not require a My Vaccine Pass, than if they do. If you have a group of people that has both people with My Vaccine Pass, and people without (excluding children), you must adhere to the lower capacity limit.
  • Workers include anyone required to operate the business or service, and therefore includes paid and unpaid.

The COVID-19 Resource Toolkit has resources and signage you can easily download and use depending on what level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework your business is in.

COVID-19 Resource Toolkit(external link) — Unite against COVID-19

See detailed guidance on what each level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework means for your business or service.