Changes to traffic light system come into effect

From today people no longer need to scan QR codes everywhere they go, but don't delete the NZ Covid Tracer app just yet. Photo: File..

Changes to the traffic light system have taken effect from 11.59pm on Friday.

"From today, you no longer need to scan QR codes everywhere you go, and businesses no longer have to display a QR code or have mandatory record keeping," says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
"If a new variant appears, we may need to use contact tracing again so we’re asking businesses to be ready to put up QR codes again, and everyone else to be ready to start scanning."
The Ministry of Health says don’t delete the NZ Covid Tracer app just yet.
"The app will stay active, so you can still use it to track your movements if you want to and Bluetooth tracing is still in use. This is a helpful way to get an early warning of exposure to Covid-19, and send anonymous notifications to close contacts if you have tested positive," says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
"Scanning and contact tracing have been a really important part of what we’ve achieved, thanks everyone for playing your part."

At the new red and orange setting, people do not need to wear a face mask outdoors. Other face mask rules for red and orange remain unchanged – masks are required in most indoor settings.

However, there are no limits on the number of people at outdoor activities, such as gatherings and events, while indoor gatherings and events will have a 200-person limit – My Vaccine Passes must still be used until 11.59pm on April 4.

Thousands of Kiwis are seeking support by local agencies through a welfare helpline set up by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). In the week ending March 20, MSD issued 9993 hardship grants to people in self-isolation. Of those, 8055 were for food.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the Ministry of Health reported 14,175 new community cases, 841 hospitalisations with the virus and 20 deaths.

More than 300 under 10-year-olds have been hospitalised so far due to Covid-19, with a public health expert saying measures to protect preschool children from the virus are inadequate. Another says early childhood education (ECE) centres are “an environment where Covid-19 could spread quite easily” and, if possible, under 5s should be kept at home.

Covid-19 vaccines totalling 76,000 doses and worth more than $800,000 will be dumped by the end of next week as AstraZeneca doses expire with officials signalling new courses are unlikely to be offered for much longer.

Vaccination rates

As of Saturday, 72.6 per cent of eligible New Zealanders had received their booster.

The number of children under 12 being vaccinated against Covid-19 has slowed right down, and data suggests the drop in demand may have predated the Omicron surge. Just over half of kids aged 5 to 11 have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine – 257,404 out of an estimated 476,294 children in that age group.

A ‘Kiwi vaccine’ for Covid-19 made in Wellington is expected to be ready to trial in people by the end of this year.

Global toll

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows more than 478 million people have been infected with Sars-CoV-2, and more than 6.1m have died.

Vaccination efforts are continuing with more than 10.8 billion doses administered around the world.

What should I do?

Anyone showing symptoms can order a test on the RAT requester site and collect it from 146 sites nationwide. A list of llocal testing centres can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

People are no longer required to use the Covid-19 tracer app.

If you are sick, call your GP before you visit, or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

To avoid contracting and spreading the virus, wash your hands properly, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow and throw tissues away immediately.

Reach out, find support from people who care, connect with your community or help a neighbour in need.

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