Red alert setting for New Zealand

Red alert setting for New Zealand

All of New Zealand moved to the Red setting of the COVID Protection Framework at 11.59pm on Sunday 23 January, to slow down and manage the spread of Omicron in the community.

Red does not mean lockdown. At Red businesses stay open and you can do most of the things that you normally do, if you are vaccinated. There are no regional boundaries at Red, and all supermarkets and retail remain open.

???? Omicron case update

Several COVID-19 cases reported in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant. These cases flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events. Initial estimates suggest there were well over 100 people at these events. This cluster has already led to an additional infection of a fully vaccinated flight attendant who picked it up on a flight on January 16th from Auckland to Nelson that the family was on. That flight attendant has worked four additional flights while infectious.

This means Omicron is circulating in Auckland and possibly the Nelson Marlborough region, if not elsewhere. Omicron is significantly more infectious and we will see far more cases than we have in the two years of the pandemic to date.

???? Boosters

The evidence from overseas is that boosters significantly reduce the likelihood of getting sick and needing to go to hospital, and also helps to reduce the transmission of the virus. Around 56% of those eligible for a booster have already had one, if you’re eligible now – go to or find a walk-in vaccination clinic at

Here’s what you can do – get boosted, wear a mask in indoor settings and when out and about and reduce contact with others.

Anyone with symptoms should isolate immediately and call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor to arrange a test. If you test positive, you will need to isolate for 14 days and your close contacts will need to isolate for at least 10 days.

Help and support, including financial support, will be available for people who are isolating. More information is available here:

???? Support for your business

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the traffic light system is designed to allow businesses to open at red. But it’s likely there’ll be economic disruptions on the supply side, as has been seen overseas. Financial support will initially be available for those who aren’t able to work because they have COVID, need to isolate because they’re a contact, or while they wait for test results.

The support in place for this stage of an Omicron outbreak is the Leave Support Scheme. Robertson explains: “This is available to employers, and also includes self-employed people, to help pay their employees who’ve been advised to self-isolate because of COVID and can’t work at home during that period. It’s paid at the same rates as the wage subsidy was previous, that being $600 per week per full-time worker and $359 per week per part-time worker.”

“We also have the short-term absence payment. This is a payment available for businesses, again including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for the result of a COVID-19 test. That is paid at $359 per eligible worker.”

Robertson advises businesses to have continuity plans in place, get boosted, and have someone who can help out if you need to self-isolate.

???? Mask up, be kind and be prepared

The Foodstuffs team said they are ready for the nationwide move to Red. Their message to all New Zealanders is:

  • It’s essential to #shopnormal
  • Mask up, mask up, mask up
  • Keep 1m physical distance while shopping.

Following Government’s announcement that New Zealand will move to the Red setting on Sunday 23 January, all New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores across Aotearoa remain 100% committed to ensuring New Zealanders continue to have their grocery needs met safely.

The Foodstuffs team explains: “We are well prepared for NZ to continue to shop safely in Red. Our teams have been actively preparing for Omicron and we have been building our stock levels in anticipation of a move to Red. We have enough for everyone as long as we all shop normally, there is no need to stock-up, even if preparing to self-isolate. 

“Since the Delta outbreak in August last year, all stores have been operating under heightened health and safety protocols, which includes increased hygiene and sanitation measures, physical distancing in store, mask use for teams and customers and scanning the QR app. These protocols are all in place and designed to look after our teams and customers and provide a safe shopping environment as we continue to navigate this global pandemic.

“We encourage all customers to play their role and help us all keep safe while we’re in RED by nominating one person in the household to shop, scanning in using the government app, or signing in at the door – and to nominate a friend or neighbour to shop on your behalf if you are feeling unwell.

“As supermarkets are an essential service, customers don’t need to be vaccinated to shop in our stores.

“It’s essential to wear a mask (unless exempt) and maintain a 1-metre physical distance. As the Omicron variant is particularly transmissible, we ask customers to be extremely vigilant, making sure their masks are well fitted and worn correctly – and to take personal responsibility for ensuring they maintain a 1-metre physical distance.

“Stores may place limits on certain items to ensure there is fair opportunity for everyone when they shop with us, this will be on a store-by-store basis, depending on customer demand. All specials, if they are available, will continue to stay in place.

“One of the ongoing effects of COVID-19 is the global supply chain has been lumpy for some time and we expect this to continue throughout 2022, so if there’s a gap on the shelf on occasion – and it’s an imported product, it’s likely held up and will be back in stock soon, please take the opportunity to try alternatives.      

“Foodstuffs has served New Zealanders for nearly 100 years and we’re grateful for the privilege to continue throughout what’s turned out to be an extraordinary time in our lives. Our 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-ops are planning to keep on providing New Zealanders with great value and choice whatever the pandemic, or life, throws at us this year and beyond. 

“Together we’ve got this, be kind to each other and our teams – and #shopnormal.”

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