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Auckland border to open mid-December

Nov 17, 2021

All of New Zealand is expected to move into the traffic light system soon after 29 November, with the Auckland boundary opening up to vaccinated or tested people from 15 December.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made the announcement at today's Covid-19 media conference, where she has been joined by Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.

The Prime Minister said Cabinet would confirm the planned switch to the Covid-19 Protection Framework for the entire country, with Auckland in 'Red' along with regions that have lower vaccination rates, and the rest in 'Orange'.

She said changes to Auckland's boundary would allow people to leave the region for any reason, beginning from 15 December, through until 17 January as long as they had a vaccine pass or a negative test within 72 hours before departure.

Those breaking the rules would face a $1000 fine, with police enforcing the rules and managing borders with spot checks, and working together with iwi on the northern border into Northland.

Checks for travellers out of Auckland Airport would be done at check-in, with Air New Zealand's vaccine certificate or test requirements also kicking in on 15 December.

"We now have the unique advantage though of moving to the next phase of managing Covid-19 with a highly vaccinated population, and with a plan," Ardern said.

"Aucklanders have faced restrictions for an extended period of time to keep the rest of New Zealand safe. But the time is coming to change the way it works to allow all New Zealanders to reconnect with one another over summer as safely as possible."

"This is a significant shift for New Zealanders, but we have a plan and you can build your own one too. Get your Vaccine Pass ready and continue to follow public health guidance."

She said the new system recognised disparities in vaccination rates and risk of the virus to vulnerable communities.

Ardern said Cabinet would make more decisions about the shift to the traffic light framework, including on testing, contact tracing, care in the community and social supports for those who contracted Covid-19.

"With fewer people needing hospital treatment because of vaccination it's important that the model of case identification and community care is robust to ensure everyone is well looked after and we reduce the risk of onward spread," she said.

Earlier this morning, the system that allows fully vaccinated people torequest their vaccine pass or certificate went live.

And all Auckland students from new entrants to Year 10 - about 200,000 children - were today allowed back into classrooms, but with some rules in place on mingling and masks.

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