After months of restrictions, Aucklanders will be out of lockdown and able to travel outside the region in four weeks time but things will look vastly different for those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who arent.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that only fully vaccinated people or those who have had a negative test will be permitted to leave Auckland when the border lifts on December 15.
Before that happens, the country will have transitioned into the traffic light framework which introduces further restrictions for unvaccinated New Zealanders, following a Cabinet review on November 29.
New Zealand has high vaccination coverage, but those who are unvaccinated will see their freedoms shrink in the coming weeks and months.
The introduction of vaccine passes will see unvaccinated people unable to visit bars, restaurants and many venues. Even at the lowest level in the framework, restrictions will apply if vaccine certificates are not used.
READ MORE:* Covid-19: Experts say vaccination push needed as virus 'will travel for summer'* Covid-19: Government to open Auckland border on December 15, allowing travel for Christmas* Covid-19: Freedoms shrinking for unvaccinated* Covid-19: A 'freedom day' for Auckland nears, the spread of Covid-19 elsewhere looms
New Zealand has high vaccination coverage: 91 per cent of eligible New Zealanders have had their first dose, and 82 per cent are fully vaccinated.
We know there are some still making the decision over when to be vaccinated but we need to make decisions now that will protect them and others, Ardern said on Wednesday.
When the country moves into the traffic light system, New Zealand will not be alone in restricting freedoms to those who have not been vaccinated.
Queensland, in Australia, will bar unvaccinated people from restaurants, cafes, pubs and sports stadiums from mid-December.
In Wales, an NHS Covid Pass which shows the person is either fully vaccinated or has had a negative test result within 48 hours is required to enter nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, and large indoor/outdoor events.
And in Singapore, those unvaccinated by choice will no longer be able to get free treatment for Covid-19.
Just this week, Austria placed about two million people who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in lockdown for at least 10 days, as the country faces a surge in cases.
Vaccine passes were introduced in New Zealand on Wednesday, and will soon be instrumental in the way many of us live our lives.
Unvaccinated people (over the age of 12) are only allowed to leave home for limited reasons, such as working or buying food.
About 65 per cent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated one of the lowest rates in Western Europe, the BBC reported.
Parts of Germany are also introducing similar restrictions for unvaccinated people.
In Saxony, only people who can prove they have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid will be allowed entry to non-essential shops and facilities; and in North Rhine-Westphalia unvaccinated people are excluded from all non-essential facilities and events, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
University of Otago (Wellington) professor Michael Baker said a person's choice not to be vaccinated affects the health of others, and supported restrictions to mitigate risk.
Epidemiologist and University of Otago (Wellington) professor Michael Baker said there were a number of positives with the traffic light system, not least that it sends an unequivocal message people must be vaccinated if they want to have certain freedoms.
He likened it to passive smoking: sitting next to someone in a restaurant, plane or movie theatre who lights up a cigar can put you at an increased risk. The same is true for sitting next to an unvaccinated person, even if you are vaccinated.
Baker said restrictions for unvaccinated people made sense from a public health and ethics perspective just like banning smoking indoors made sense.
Your choice not to be vaccinated affects other peoples health.
Restrictions for unvaccinated people under the impending traffic light system put a damper on that behaviour, while also nudging others to get vaccinated to be able to partake in greater freedoms.
Despite that, Baker believed the move to dissolve Auckland's border in a months time was premature.
The risk of Aucklanders to the rest of the country is higher than that posed by most people coming into managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) from overseas, he said, but a different bar had been set for them.
Auckland's boundary will be lifted from December 15, with restrictions on who can leave the region.
He noted it was really tough to get this right, but said we wont have the vaccination barrier intact by the time this diaspora happens out of Auckland.
Baker expected Covid-19 would reach every corner of the North Island by the end of summer.
That created a moral quandary of sorts, given the worrying unevenness and holes in the countrys vaccination coverage.
Rates for Mori are 20 per cent lower than the national average, and as Mori made up the majority of cases, they would be the group getting sick and dying, Baker said.
Even with high vaccination coverage overall, we're seeing something we never wanted to see, a very uneven pandemic.
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