By 1News and Anna Whyte

New Zealand's Covid-19 traffic light system is being scrapped and restrictions will end at 11.59pm tonight, Monday, September 12.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement from Parliament.

Masks will not be required except in health settings, household contacts will not need to isolate, vaccine mandates will be lifted from September 26 and access to antiviral medicines will be widened.

Health settings include doctor clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and rest homes.

"Today marks a milestone in our response. Finally, rather than feeling that Covid dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control," Ardern said.

"In short, we now move on to a simple two requirements system of masks in healthcare settings and seven days isolation for positive cases only."


Restrictions will largely be removed, largely with no mask requirements, including on public transport - except in health settings.

Counselling, mental health and addiction services will not have a mask requirement.

"Some places, such as workplaces, special events, or marae may ask you to wear a mask, but this will be at their discretion and no longer a Government requirement," Ardern said.

"Please respect those who choose to keep wearing masks as a form of protection."

People with Covid-19 will still need to isolate for seven days, but their household contacts will not. Household contacts previously had to isolate for a week unless they had Covid-19 in the past three months or had already isolated in the last 10 days.

"Their household contacts will only be asked to undertake a daily RAT test before going about their life as normal," Ardern said.


Remaining vaccine mandates will be dropped in two weeks on September 26, including for health care works and overseas tourists.

There will be no vaccine requirements for international travellers and crew.


Anti-viral medicine eligibility will be doubled.

Now, all New Zealanders aged 65 and over, and Māori 50 and over will have access to Covid anti-virals if they test positive.

Previously, people 'at-risk', such as those aged over 75, immunocompromised and people who have been in ICU previously due to Covid were able to access antiviral medicine if they have just caught Covid (or are a probable case) and had symptoms within 5 days.

Traffic light history

New Zealand moved to the Orange level of the traffic light system mid-April.

The traffic light system replaced the alert level system in December last year. It was revised mid-March.

Ardern said earlier this month New Zealand had been "working with the traffic light system for upwards to a year now, so now is it the time to look at whether or not all those settings are fit for purpose".

New Zealand had 981 cases reported in the last 24 hours, 92 of those being reinfections and another 30 were reinfections after 90 days.

Since the first case in New Zealand, overall there has been 1,758,884 Covid cases reported and 1950 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19.

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