Here’s a roundup of the biggest updates from March 23 concerning Aotearoa’s Omicron outbreak.
Cases and vaccinations
There are 20,087 new community cases of Covid-19, and 11 further deaths to report.
* Covid-19: 20,087 new community cases, 11 deaths reported
* Retail NZ fears aggression over mask rules will continue
* Hospitality calls for further loosening of Covid-19 restrictions
* Vaccine pass mandates to go, scanning in no longer required
The number of publicly reported Covid-related deaths is now 210.
To date, over 4 million people in New Zealand have been double vaccinated against Covid-19, and 72.8 per cent of those eligible have been boosted. In children aged 5 to 11-years-old, 53.8 per cent have received their first doses, and 9.9 per cent have had their second dose.
There were 3972 booster doses given on Tuesday, along with 4028 paediatric second doses.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a number of changes to the Covid-19 rules on Monday.
Vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits have been removed.
Businesses will still be able to use vaccine passes if they want to, but the passes will not be required to operate with indoor guests.
Vaccine mandates will be narrowed to cover only health, aged care, corrections and border workers, Ardern announced.
The Government has also abolished all outdoor gathering limits and doubled the indoor gathering limit from 100 to 200.
QR code scanning will also be removed. Masks will no longer be required at outdoor venues.
This is all under the “red” setting of the traffic light system, which New Zealand is staying within for the time being.
The mandate removal and end of the vaccine pass will go into effect from April 5, while the other changes go into effect from midnight on Friday.
If the country moves to orange – which it could do in early April – then all rules other than masking requirements will be removed.
“We are keeping the traffic light framework in order to offer ongoing protections in the event of a new variant or in cases of future surges, but our plan is to move down to Orange and then ultimately Green, once it is safe to do so.”
Ardern said the country would review its traffic light setting on April 4.
Meanwhile, dedicated isolation facilities for people in the Tairāwhiti region with Covid-19 who may have to leave their own homes due to the severe flooding and heavy rainfall are being set up by Civil Defence.
Jim Green, chief executive of the local district health board, Hauora Tairāwhiti, said safety came first. “The immediate safety of people and making they have somewhere warm and safe, overrides the pandemic.”
To get the latest information please go to www.covid19testing.nz
For further information on where to get vaccinated, please go to www.vaccnateforauckland.nz
Tune into Stuff this Thursday where an expert panel will answer your questions about Covid-19.
Stuff is documenting everyday life during the Omicron outbreak as part of our Omichronicles series.
You can read the latest one here about how long under-5’s will have to wait for a Covid vaccine.