Legal Updates

What do the changes to the COVID-19 traffic light system mean for my business?


With modelling showing an expected decline in the current Omicron outbreak in early April, the Government has confirmed that long-awaited changes to New Zealand’s COVID-19 Protection Framework will shortly come into effect.

From midnight on Friday, 25 March 2022 the following updates to the ‘Red’ setting of the traffic light system will be made for those businesses operating within the My Vaccine Pass system:

  • Capacity limits will be removed for outdoor events;
  • Outdoor face mask requirements will be removed;
  • Indoor capacity limits for hospitality venues will double, from 100 to 200 people; and
  • QR code scanning will no longer be required.

The above changes will not apply to businesses not using My Vaccine Passes until 11.59pm on Monday, 4 April 2022, when the following additional features of the country’s updated COVID-19 response will come into effect for all:

  • My Vaccine Passes will no longer be required; and
  • Government-imposed vaccine mandates will be removed for all industries except health and disability workers, aged care workers, prison staff and border workers.

Businesses considering the ongoing relevance of their own vaccine mandates in light of the Omicron wave will no doubt have welcomed the Government’s guidance.

However, despite the Government’s decision-making on this issue, individual businesses still have a number of policy considerations to navigate. Here are some issues businesses should be assessing as the country transitions away from vaccine mandates:

  • Businesses that have previously carried out risk assessments as a basis for requiring vaccination among staff should be re-assessing these as a precursor to any proposal to remove or relax vaccine mandates within the business.
  • Staff should be consulted in relation to any preliminary decisions about removing vaccine mandates or serving unvaccinated customers/clients. These are fundamental health and safety matters that staff should be given the opportunity to comment on before final decisions are made.
  • Businesses are not required to repeal or amend their own vaccine mandates solely because of the Government’s decision-making. Each business’ individual circumstances, and the views of staff, remain the most important considerations.
  • The possibility of future variants and the need to make further changes your COVID-19 response should be acknowledged when adapting policies in the short-term.   

Business owners who want expert advice on the impact of the country’s changing response to COVID-19 on their business should contact Jaesen, Ruth, Jordan, Caylee or Lucy

Alternatively, if you would like to reach out to us directly today, please complete the short form below and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly: