UPDATE: All of New Zealand will move to the orange traffic light setting at 11.59pm tonight.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins made the annoucement when addressing media in Wellington today.
He says case numbers are declining and it is clear the country is now on the other side of the peak.
“The revised Covid-19 Protection Framework we introduced three weeks ago has effectively managed the Omicron outbreak at Red,” says Hipkins.
“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a sustained reduction in cases and hospitalisations despite the relaxation of settings, so we’re confident a move to Orange can lock in those gains while helping the country return to a greater degree of normality.
“Under Orange there are no indoor capacity limits and the seated and separated rule for hospitality venues lifts, so bars, cafes and restaurants are able to fill up again.
“Wearing a face mask at Orange is still important, especially with capacity limits removed. People are required to wear a face mask in many indoor settings. Next to being vaccinated and having a booster, face masks are our main defence against Covid-19 at Orange.
“We know this shift down to Orange will be welcome news to many as we head into Easter weekend and the school holidays and connect with loved ones.
“But there is still Omicron in the community, and the threat of new variants arriving here is still risk, so I urge everyone to continue to be cautious and think about the health of others, especially those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of long-term health impacts from infection.
“It’s also important to make a plan in case you get Covid-19 on holiday. If you’re not using your own vehicle to travel – such as being reliant on airplane or public transport - you need to make sure you can isolate where you are.”
The next traffic light review will be in mid-May.
The government is set to reveal today whether any part of the country will drop to the orange traffic light setting in time for Easter.
Ministers held off from easing restrictions last week, citing sustained pressure on the country's health system.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said last week his advice for Cabinet will not look at the number of hospitalisations but instead the pressure on hospitals and general practices, including staffing.
There are no limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings at the orange setting and face masks are not required in as many places.
There have been calls to tweak the rules, however, so face masks are required indoors at schools.
Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins will make the announcement at 1pm today.