As many people are aware, Aotearoa has fared better than most countries in containing covid. We successfully maintained an elimination strategy while maintaining more freedoms than elsewhere in the OECD until the arrival of the Delta variant in August. While every infection still goes through isolation and contact tracing the numbers of infections continue to grow – now reaching (for NZ) the dizzying heights of 200 new infections per day, mostly within the Auckland region.
Some time ago the government announced the plans for moving from the elimination strategy to a “protection framework”. Personally I would have been happy for the elimination strategy to have continued until 90% – 95% of the population is vaccinated, and outside of Auckland that would probably have been practical. But as the city of Auckland is our gateway to the world, cases are always going to pop up there.
Currently there is a “border” between Auckland and the rest of the country and while it is effective in reducing personal travel in and out of the city, by its very nature it must be porous if commerce is to continue. Besides, with Aucklanders being in a Level 3 Lockdown while the rest of the country is relatively free at Level 2 (no lockdown, but masks and social distancing, limits on size of gatherings), the level of frustration, particularly in Auckland, has begun to grow.
The new COVID-19 Protection Framework is the government’s plan to provide a pathway out of lockdown. It’s taken a very long time for the plan to be publicly announced (too long in my view), although we all knew it was coming. Not only does the legal framework have to be set in place, and with the lengthy consultation processes that typically take place in this nation, that takes some time, but the logistics of putting it in place must be a nightmare as it will affect every sector of society.
For anyone interested in knowing how the protection framework (also referred to as the traffic light system as it uses codes of green, orange and red) will work, there’s a PDF chart and an easy read PDF version (43 pages!) available. It means that for those who are fully vaccinated, movement and gatherings will be mostly unrestricted. Others will find life more restrictive. Businesses will have to choose whether to accept everyone and live with regulations mandating social distancing, the number of customers and the types of services they can perform, or choose to accept only vaccinated customers, in which case it’s mostly “business as usual” – usual as it’s been for most of Aotearoa for the last nineteen months.
To quote the government covid-19 website:
Elimination and the alert levels have served New Zealand well. They delivered the lowest number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the OECD, gave us sustained periods of days without restrictions and a strong economy that sees GDP rising and unemployment falling to historic low levels. But it was never intended as a forever strategy.
We now have the unique advantage of moving to the next phase of managing COVID-19 in our community with a highly vaccinated population.
The COVID-19 Protection Framework brings us a world where we are freer to move and live with less disruption and offers the stability businesses need to plan for the future. It introduces a new traffic light system to manage COVID-19 in the community:
The framework is more flexible than the current Alert Level system because we know that businesses that only open to vaccinated customers pose a lower risk. We can move up levels when needed to control an outbreak.The COVID-19 Protection Framework (23 November 2021)
Of course this framework requires the use of vaccination certificates or “passports”. On 17 November, the My Vaccine Pass website was opened to the public, where we could apply for the passport. The “traffic light system” starts operating from 2 December 2021. I left applying until today in order to avoid the rush and the inevitable bugs that slow down process, or worse, not being able to complete the process at all.
I’m a reasonably competent computer user, using it every day as part of my part-time, semi-retired business hosting and managing web servers and mail servers for a limited number of clients. And having been a I.T. engineer for most of my working life until ill health forced an early retirement 22 years ago, I suspect my skills are well above average. But today, when faced with installing the vaccination passports on my phone and the wife’s, I struggled. I wonder how those less familiar with the wonders of modern technology are going to fare. I suspect a great many people who qualify will not be ready by the starting date. My experience installing the “passports” will be the topic for another post.