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The move to Phase Three

Business South —

Ministers have confirmed a move to the next phase of the Government’s Omicron response from 11:59pm tonight, Thursday, 24 February.

With daily case numbers in the thousands and forecast to rise sharply during the next few weeks, these changes will ease some of the pressure on our testing and contact tracing services while helping to ensure critical services and supply chains remain operational and our economy keeps moving.

Because so many New Zealanders are vaccinated and Omicron is a less severe variant, the Government is moving to a more devolved response with much greater emphasis on self-management. 

There are three major changes at Phase Three:


From midnight tonight, only confirmed cases and household contacts of a confirmed case will be required to self-isolate. 

Confirmed cases and household contacts should isolate for 10 days.

The critical worker exemption scheme will enable eligible household contacts to return to work during their isolation periods by returning daily negative Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).


RATs now become the primary form of testing. 

Locations within the Southern region with RATs available can be found on the HealthPoint website. Over the coming days, the number of access points will increase significantly.

In addition, approved RATs will soon be available for purchase at public retail outlets. 

Contact tracing

A new self-investigation tool will support positive cases to self-notify contacts. 

While only household contacts are required to isolate, the tool will assist health workers to track high-risk exposure events or locations. 

Contact tracing teams will now focus on identifying and tracing those who have visited these high-risk locations, such as hospitals or aged care facilities.

Read the full announcement about the move to Phase Three here