23 Mar 2022

What you need to know: Key changes for scanning, vaccine passes and mandates

12:15 pm on 23 March 2022

Explainer - The country's public health restrictions are being adjusted with scanning, vaccine passes and mandates on the way out.

The prime minister has outlined a raft of changes so here is a summary.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 17: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been altered: Personal information of subject has been removed).

The vaccine pass is on the way out, although businesses can insist on its use if they wish. Photo: 2021 Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's successful management of the Omicron outbreak and high rates of vaccination mean it is now safe to ease the restrictions that have helped prevent widespread harm to people's health and economic damage.

She mapped out how things will change over the next two weeks, at a media briefing this morning.

Traffic light setting - The main points:

  • The traffic light system will be retained, in part to deal with possible new variants
  • The country remains at the red light setting which will be reviewed on 4 April and regularly after that
  • The isolation period remains at seven days
  • Gathering limits indoors will be lifted from 100 people to 200 with the rules on seating and separation to be retained.
  • All outdoor gathering limits will be axed - affecting sports and concerts
  • Outdoor face mask requirements will be removed
  • Scanning of QR codes will end
  • Businesses no longer need to display the code for scanning in
  • The above changes will take effect from 11.59pm on Friday

Ardern appealed to people not to delete the QR code from their phones in case it needs to be reintroduced in future.

She said businesses should stand ready to stand up QR codes again, in case of a new variant that evades vaccines or is more deadly, in which case contact tracing would once again play a more critical role.

"Scanning has been a really important part of what we've achieved, so thank you to everyone for playing your part."

Vaccine mandates and vaccine passes - the main points

  • Businesses will no longer need to inspect vaccine passes
  • All vaccine mandates will be removed, except for those working in the health and disability sector, aged care facilities, Corrections staff and border and MIQ workers
  • The decision means education, police and Defence Force will no longer need to mandate their workforces
  • The decisions above will take effect from 11.59pm on 4 April
  • There will be a review of the mandate in the health sector, so that the requirement for vaccinations may be narrowed to a smaller part of the workforce

Ardern said this is not the beginning of the end of Covid-19. It remains with us and will be for some time to come, she said.

"We're making changes based on evidence to make it easier to live with and essentially to help continue to get us through as safely and as well as possible."

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