Government | Boosters and Mask Use over Red Setting

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has noted that a change in Covid-19 traffic light settings would not make a significant difference on surging case numbers.

She said the most important thing was for people to adhere to the current requirements - which meant wearing a mask and those over 50 getting a second booster.

Covid-19 cases continue to increase with more than 7000 cases reported on Sunday and hospitalisations rising to 662, the highest mark since 5 April.

While a retail lobby group has said masks should no longer be mandatory in stores, health experts believe New Zealand needs to toughen up on the policy or risk Kiwis getting sicker.

Otago University epidemiologist Michael Baker said New Zealanders needed to mask up more, not less.

"We need a huge shift in thinking if we're going to keep on top of this virus," he said.

Baker said Omicron, and particularly its more infectious new sub-variants, were "very good" at escaping the immunity offered by both past infections and vaccines.

"So, I think more than ever we need to rely on masks."

He called on the government to produce a new national strategy on masking.