Recap: Vaccine targets, business support among Govt Covid announcements

Recap Friday's announcements as they happened with 1News' live updates.

Source: 1 NEWS

12.20pm: That concludes our live updates. Thanks for joining us. 

Here's what you need to know:

- New Zealand will have a new traffic light Covid framework, largely modelled around if a person is vaccinated. This will eventually replace the current Alert Level system. 

- That new framework will be introduced once 90 per cent of eligible people in every DHB gets both doses of the Covid vaccine

- The Government has established a $120 million fund to accelerate Māori vaccination rates 

- There is further support available for businesses, including an increased resurgence support payment and mental health support for Auckland businesses 

- People on low incomes can get access to extra funds to pay for food and emergencies while Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions continue 

- Auckland will come out of lockdown and go to the new "red" traffic light setting when all three DHBs in the region hit the double-dose 90 per cent milestone, no matter what vaccination rates are outside of the city

- The South Island's Covid-19 restrictions may lift before the rest of the country if all DHBs on the island hit the 90 per cent vaccination milestone 

12.15pm: National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly says Robertson's support package was too little too late for many businesses. 

“National’s approach is to stop businesses falling over now, not in three weeks’ time. Extra cash is going to be of no use to a businesses that has failed. The lack of urgency from the Minister is disappointing.

“There has also been no targeted support for sectors struggling most, such as the tourism, accommodation and events sectors," he says.

12.08pm: Epidemiologist Michael Baker says the new framework's emphasis on vaccinations is great, as well as the new investment for increasing vaccination rates among Māori. 

Keeping the border strong around Auckland would also be very important in preventing the outbreak taking off in other parts of Aotearoa, he says. 

However, Baker says the framework didn't clear up confusion because there were now, essentially, three systems in place: the Alert Level framework, Auckland's step system, and the traffic light framework. 

11.39am: Collins says vaccine certificates should have already been in place, like they are overseas. 

"What we heard today from the Prime Minister was that we're in a sprint. Where was that sprint earlier this year when New Zealanders were wanting to get vaccinated and couldn't because we didn't have the vaccine supply," she says.

"I'm hearing from people this morning who are looking to or are closing their businesses. Everything they have saved and worked for [is] gone."

11:34am: National leader Judith Collins begins her press conference saying she'd just gotten off the phone with "some Aucklanders". 

"They're in despair, in tears. They see no way out for them to get out of the prison that Auckland has become until most likely mid-December.

"What we saw today from the Prime Minister was dismaying, confusing, complicated and I think a lot of people in New Zealand will be feeling exactly the same way," she says with visible emotion.

A proposed plan by the National Party will see New Zealand end Covid-19 lockdown restrictions once the country hits an 85 to 90 per cent full vaccination rate nationwide, or on December 1, whichever is first.

11.27am: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the Government's business support package. 

"Doubling the rate of the resurgence support payment will help many businesses cope until they are able to resume more normal operations at a lower level of restrictions. It will help keep businesses alive and people in work," Goff says.

As for the 90 per cent double-vaccination target for Auckland to move to "red", Goff calls it a "powerful incentive". 

11.20am: Hendy says he's not surprised about the lack of a Māori vaccination target. 

"The Government has been very resistant to setting targets for Māori and we've seen that right throughout the planning of this vaccination programme.

"I am disappointed that hasn't happened."

Ardern says Māori vaccination rates will be captured in the DHB-wide targets. 

11.11am: The Green Party says Labour's plan is "rushed and risky". 

“The Government is unfortunately planning to move to a new Covid-19 response strategy before New Zealand is ready. The proposed vaccination targets are insufficient to protect the most vulnerable, and risk opening up before everyone is safe on an equal basis," Greens MP Julie Anne Genter says. 

“While we welcome today's announcement on hardship assistance, the Government still needs to do more, especially for those not in work.

“There still isn’t enough support for helping low income households to meet their living costs, especially those dealing with high and increasing cost of rent and other living expenses."

MP Elizabeth Kerekere says the lack of Māori and Pasifika vaccination rates in the Government’s plan won't guarantee everyone is protected equally. 

“We welcome the additional funding to these communities as necessary to get the work done," Kerekere says.

"However, Māori leadership is imperative to properly prepare for suppression and keep our whānau safe during this pandemic. We recognise the majority of Māori are not with Māori health providers and are instead with GP practices."

11.00am: Ardern says "active work" is underway to finalise when Aucklanders will be able to travel outside of the city.

She says she knows people would want to travel around the country this summer. 

"We have set ourselves a goal to try and establish whether or not this will be possible, well in time for those milestones," she says. 

Ardern says the new traffic light system signals an end to nationwide lockdowns. But, she says targeted lockdowns are on the cards for parts of the country with a lower vaccine uptake.

10.57am: Modeller Shaun Hendy believes there is enough flexibility in the new traffic light framework "that it could be a workable system". 

He says the country should anticipate spending considerable time in the "red" setting in 2022 to prevent the health system from becoming overwhelmed. 

"We've also still got lockdowns in the toolkit, so those will still need to be used in local regions."

10.53am: Full details about the enhanced resurgence support payment can be found here

The ACT Party has welcomed the changes to the payment, but says many businesses were still facing uncertainty.

“Businesses are doing it tough through no fault of their own and it’s only right that the Government has stepped up with further resurgence payments”, ACT MP Chris Baillie says.

“While businesses have also received the wage subsidy, that doesn’t entirely cover wages and most businesses are having to top it up, with no money coming in.

“The increase to the minimum wage this year means the subsidy is worth less than it was last year."

10.51am: National is scheduling a media conference at 11.30am to respond to the Government's announcements. 

The ACT Party criticised today's announcement for failing to consider international borders in detail. 

“There was no mention of MIQ or self-isolation today. We cannot go on like this and we can’t keep ignoring a million New Zealanders [who are overseas]," leader David Seymour says. 

“The Government’s announcement today hasn’t even considered the international border, simply saying 'soon we will be on a pathway to reopening the border.'"

10.44am: On November 29, Cabinet will be reviewing the current Covid restrictions. 

"We are open to moving the South Island before the rest of the country if all DHBs in the south hit their targets before others," Ardern says.

10.29am: Auckland is 16,000 vaccine doses away from hitting the 90 per cent first dose milestone, Ardern says. 

"This is within Auckland's grasp. We will be throwing every resource we can to support them. We just added the incentive - anyone who is not vaccinated right now, unless you choose to be, you won't be able to enjoy the freedoms of other New Zealanders," Ardern says.

She says Auckland's current trajectory would see it move out of lockdown before Christmas.

10.26am: Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare is announcing an additional $120 million fund to help more Māori get vaccinated. 

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The Associate Health Minister says the money will help fast-track Covid-19 vaccination efforts and prepare Māori communities for the new protection framework. Source: 1 NEWS

"$60 million will go towards further supporting our Māori vaccination rates and a further $60 million will support Māori and Iwi-led initiatives to protect our communities against Covid-19," he says.

"Our kuia, kaumātua are leading the way and now we need the rest of the whānau to do the same."

10.24am: Income limits for support through MSD has been temporarily lifted. 

This means more people can now get assistance. 

"Currently a single person working 30 hours per week on the minimum wage is not eligible for hardship assistance from Work and Income," Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni says.

"We’re lifting the income limits for assistance to 40 hours at the minimum wage, or $800 per week and $1600 per week for a couple with or without children."

The changes will result in an estimated 25,000 more grants to low-income workers, Sepuloni says.

10.21am: Robertson says the estimated cost of providing both the weekly resurgence support payment and the wage subsidy is up to $940 million per fortnight through this transitional period while areas of the country are still in Alert Level 3.

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The Deputy Prime Minister outlines changes to wage subsidies and limits for assistance. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland businesses can also access a $60 million fund for business advice and mental health support. 

Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3000 for advice, and up to $4000 to implement that advice.

10.18am: Finance Minister Grant Robertson is outlining new support measures for businesses. 

The maximum resurgence support payment has now doubled to $43,000 per business, and will be paid fornightly instead of every three weeks. This kicks in after the next scheduled payment on October 29. That will be available until Auckland moves into the new framework. 

Under the increased payment scheme, each eligible business can get $3000 every two weeks. In addition, it can receive $800 per FTE, for up to 50 FTEs. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.

The wage subsidy will continue as the country transitions away from the Alert Level system.

10.17am: More details on the vaccination milestones here

10.14am: Ardern says Auckland will come out of lockdown and go to the new "red" setting when all three DHBs in the region hit the double-dose 90 per cent milestone, no matter what vaccination rates are outside of the city.

These are the Auckland, Waitematā, and Counties Manukau DHBs.

However, the Government hasn't confirmed when exactly the borders around Auckland will be able to lift for domestic travel. 

10.09am: A quick rundown on the new Covid-19 Protection Framework. 

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Jacinda Ardern outlines the new strategy to help control the spread of coronavirus. Source: 1 NEWS

The framework has three settings: green, orange and red. 

New Zealand will remain in "green" when there is limited community transmission and hospitalisations are at a manageable level. Record keeping is required, face coverings are encouraged indoors and public facilities. 

"Orange" will be used if there is increasing community transmission. Public facilities will remain open but with capacity limits. 

"Red" will be used if the system is facing an "unsustainable" level of hospitalisations. Working from home will be encouraged. Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport, retail and public venues. Face coverings will be recommended whenever people leave the house.

Vaccine certificates will be used in all three settings, and will provide greater freedoms when used. There will be no limits on gathering numbers for places that use vaccine certificates under the orange and green settings.

Read the full details here.

10.05am: Each DHB needs to have a double-dose vaccination rate of 90 per cent of eligible people.

Once every DHB reaches this, the country will move to the Covid-19 Protection Framework - the traffic light system. 

10.04am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Delta variant has "made it very hard to maintain our elimination strategy". 

"We now need to be vaccinated to save lives."

9.50am: The Government is expected to reveal a number of new policies to tackle the pandemic, including:

- A new "traffic light" system, which is expected to replace the current Alert Level system

- Covid vaccine "milestones" 

- A new package to support businesses impacted by the pandemic

- A hardship assistance package for families on low incomes 

- Funding to help increase Māori vaccination rates