COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

The COVID-19 Protection Framework provides flexibility for businesses as New Zealand manages COVID-19 in the community.

About the Framework

The traffic light settings allow businesses to open and operate with flexibility while protecting our hospitals and health system.

The Framework will continue to protect New Zealanders, while also providing more certainty and new opportunities. It minimises the impact through 3 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 masks are generally required indoors but are not required outdoors.

Capacity limits apply to many indoor settings, but there are no limits on outdoor numbers.

Orange is used when the risk to our public health system has reduced.

Face masks are required in most of the same indoor settings as for red.

There are no capacity limits indoors or outdoors.

Green is used when most restrictions can be removed.

Face masks and hygiene practices are encouraged.

Facemask requirements

Read more about face mask requirements for workers and customers

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 hairdressers (close proximity rules apply). 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.

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

If the case is an employee, or a household contact, then they must follow isolation requirements.

What to do if you have a COVID-19 case at your business

Testing and returning to work during Omicron

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. At red, working from home may be appropriate for some staff.

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