New Zealand moves to Red at 11.59pm on Sunday 23 January

23 January 2022

The Government has announced that all of New Zealand will move to Red from 11:59pm tonight, Sunday 23 January 2022. 

Please note that Red, under the traffic light system, is not a lockdown. 

Businesses can remain open but will need to take extra measures to ensure they are operating safely within public health requirements. Go here for more information about what your business needs to do at Red – UniteAgainstCovid19 to keep yourself and others safe while operating.

At Red, you can protect yourself and the community by getting boosted, wearing a mask when going out and reducing contact with others.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has put out specific guidance for the primary sector


Covid testing sites will be using rapid antigen tests (RATs) alongside the usual PCR tests. More information on the use of and availability of RATs is expected from the Government on Wednesday, along with changes to case definitions and isolation times.


Domestic travel can still occur under the Red setting and there are currently no regional border limits in place.

Economic support

The Government’s initial response to an Omicron outbreak is targeted at supply chain and workforce disruptions.

The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for a Covid test result.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who have been advised to self-isolate because of Covid and can’t work at home during that period.


Looking ahead

The move to Red comes at a time when harvests are either underway or about to get underway across the horticulture sector.  This will add stress and uncertainty to growers’ already stretched lives. 

As with the lockdowns, HortNZ will work with product groups and Government agencies to provide growers with up to date and useful information.  We will also strenuously advocate for growers and the food supply chain, to ensure that New Zealanders continue to have access to fresh vegetables and fruit, particularly over the coming months. 

We are working with MPI to try and seek some clarity about what to do in the event of a Covid case in businesses and operations like the ones in horticulture.  We will also be pushing to try and keep instructions clear and simple. 


Look after yourself and your team 

It can be stressful managing the impacts of Covid.  Please stay connected. For advice, including someone to talk to, please go here: Mental health and wellbeing support —