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 allow businesses to open and operate with greater flexibility 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 is used if there’s a need to protect both at-risk people and our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.

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

Face coverings are required
in some places including on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public facilities, and encouraged elsewhere.

Green is used when there are some COVID-19 cases in the community.

Face coverings are required
on flights.

What it means for business

  • The requirements apply by activity. If your business carries out a number of different activities, you will need to consider how best to meet the requirements for each. 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). If your business carries out a number of different activities that can't be separated, you will need to operate under the more stringent rules. If you can separate operations, you can operate in line with the specific rules within each separate area.
  • 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 premise/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 the appropriate 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 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 (or children under 12), and people without, 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

If your workplace has a case of COVID-19

Please see the Ministry of Health website for information on how to manage cases of COVID-19 in your workplace.

Guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19(external link) — Ministry of Health

Advice on contact tracing, and requirements for case contacts(external link) — Ministry of Health

If your workplace does not fall into one of the categories listed below, you need to follow general workplace rules:

  • Workplaces may open at all levels, provided they are not undertaking activities that are otherwise restricted. At red, workplaces are open, working from home may be appropriate for some staff.
  • Workplaces must display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes, but vehicles are not required to do this.
  • In general, workers do not need to scan NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes if it is their usual place of work. However, all other persons on the premises are encouraged to scan or use alternative record keeping.

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