WHAT IS THE NEW COVID-19 PROTECTION FRAMEWORK?

The new COVID-19 Protection Framework (CPF) will replace the Alert Level system. We will transition as it’s safe to do so and once the 90% vaccination rate in each DHB milestone have been hit.

This framework enables more activity and ensures people can plan ahead. High vaccination rates will mean many of the restrictions necessary under Alert Levels 3 and 4 will no longer be required to keep us safe and many of our freedoms can return.

With the CPF and high vaccine rates across every DHB we will be able to change how we manage COVID-19 domestically. This is part of our pathway to reopening our borders and reconnecting New Zealand with the world.

WHEN WILL MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CPF BE MADE AVAILABLE?

More detail on how the Framework will be implemented will be available by the end of November, after further decisions are made by Ministers.

High vaccination rates mean we will soon be able to take a new approach to managing COVID-19 with fewer restrictions and less reliance on lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus. Work is now underway to develop guidance and detail to underpin the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, and we will only transition when it is safe to do so. We’ll be talking with a wide range of people as this work progresses including community and business groups, education, faith-based and sport sectors, and other key stakeholders.

WHY ARE WE INTRODUCING A NEW FRAMEWORK?

Using Alert Levels to stamp out COVID-19 helped keep us safe from the worst impacts of COVID-19 that we have seen overseas. It’s something we’re incredibly proud of.

While Delta, and its high transmissibility, has changed our ability to control COVID-19, the vaccine has enabled us to change the way we manage the virus. High vaccination rates mean we can introduce a new system to support us to move to a new chapter, where COVID-19 is managed in a different way, minimising the impacts it has on our day-to-day lives.

HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM THE OLD SYSTEM?

This framework includes measures that New Zealanders will be familiar with from the Alert Level system that have proven to work well to keep us safe. The key shift is introducing different freedoms for those with a vaccination certificate. It also means that some activities will only be available to those with vaccination certificates.  High vaccination rates mean that many of the restrictions we needed under Alert Levels 3 and 4 will not be needed as often.  We will still utilise targeted and localised lockdowns where needed to keep people safe.

WHEN WILL THIS BE IMPLEMENTED?

It is likely that the CPF will be implemented in the Auckland region first, once the three Auckland DHBs have achieved 90% of their eligible populations being fully vaccinated. This is estimated to be in early December, and they would move to Red status. The rest of New Zealand will continue using the existing Alert Level system. Decisions and announcements for when the rest of the country or parts of New Zealand move reviewed at the end of November.

The rest of New Zealand will continue using the existing Alert Level system until the 90% fully vaccinated target set across each DHB region is reached

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE OLD ALERT LEVEL SYSTEM?

The existing Alert Levels have served us incredibly well. When a region begins using CPF it will replace the existing Alert Level framework.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE OLD ALERT LEVEL SYSTEM?

Having a highly vaccinated population protects all of us. Work is continuing to increase the rates of vaccination in vulnerable communities and populations.

A new $120 million package is being made available to help increase Māori vaccination rates. The fund will provide direct financial support to iwi and Māori organisations, to accelerate vaccination uptake over the next two months.

COULD THERE STILL BE LOCKDOWNS IN THE FUTURE?

Local and targeted lockdowns will still be a part of the toolkit to help manage transmission, particularly for more vulnerable communities. But with 90% of the eligible population vaccinated, it means that we will be less reliant on more widespread lockdowns, unless urgent action is required to protect our health system or protect New Zealanders against new variants.

ARE WE MOVING AWAY FROM ELIMINATION?

High vaccination rates mean our focus can move away from elimination to a strategy of minimisation and protection – aiming to keep the spread of COVID-19 low, whilst protecting people from the virus.

WHY CAN’T THE SOUTH ISLAND MOVE TO THE NEW FRAMEWORK NOW?

The 90% vaccination rate target for all DHBs in the South Island would need to be met before the whole island could move to the new framework.

HOW FAR AWAY ARE WE FROM VACCINATING 90% OF THE ELIGIBLE POPULATION?

The latest information on vaccine rates is available on the Ministry of Health website.

WHAT DETERMINES A CHANGE IN LEVEL?

Cabinet, on the advice of Health officials, will consider a range of factors to inform decisions to move parts of the countries between different levels. This will include vaccination coverage, the capacity of the health and disability system, testing, contact tracing and case management capacity, and the transmission of COVID-19 within the community, including its impact on the most vulnerable populations.

WHAT IS THE MINIMISATION AND PROTECTION APPROACH AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM ELIMINATION?

Under the elimination strategy, all activities were focused on getting to and maintaining ‘zero COVID-19’. This was vital when treatments and, importantly, effective vaccinations were unavailable. When we did get vaccines, it was important for us to roll out vaccination to those most at risk first: our border workers, older populations and those that had other health risks.

Now as we work towards higher rates of vaccination across all our populations and all non-NZ citizens coming across our border are required to be vaccinated, we can move to a new approach.

Minimisation and protection will aim to shield both those who are most at risk of severe disease/outcomes, and the health system that is required to treat these people and continue to function to maintain other health services. This allows other priorities to be upheld, such as the importance of livelihoods and social connections, even in the context of a circulating virus. As such, impact on the necessities of life are ‘minimised’ and vital parts of society are ‘protected’.