New Zealand's decision-makers faced one of their most important Cabinet meetings of the year yesterday, and not just because 2022 has only just started.
Today, an announcement is expected after Cabinet met yesterday to consider the latest about Covid-19 and reviews the traffic-light system.
It follows an interesting few weeks of Covid-19 developments.
On Sunday, the Auckland MIQ worker who tested positive for the virus was confirmed to have caught the Omicron variant that is spreading like wildfire overseas.
And experts warn the variant would soon leak through MIQ into the community.
Some of these same experts have also urged the traffic light system to be replaced by another system more suitable for Omicron.
Professor Michael Baker says a different set of interventions are needed to dampen its potentially devastating transmission. On Tuesday, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed the Ministry of Health was looking at whether to tweak the system.
Omicron couldn't come at a worse time with signs showing that the Delta outbreak was starting to become contained.
The prerequisites of moving from orange to green – limited community transmission and high vaccination rates – have been achieved.
Bay of Plenty businesses and locals alike have been starved of normalcy over the past two years and are both desperate for a reprieve.
At green, everything can be open and businesses and venues can choose to open without restrictions on numbers if they follow vaccine pass rules.
As reported on Monday in the Bay of Plenty Times, some Tauranga businesses would celebrate the relaxation of mask use and welcome back unvaccinated customers.
The feeling was similar in Rotorua, where business owners told the Rotorua Daily Post they are eager for foot traffic to increase.
Latest Ministry of Health figures show that as of Sunday evening, there were 89 active cases in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and 41 cases in the Lakes District Health Board. The fully vaccinated rates for both districts were 91 and 89 per cent respectively.
Another headache for the rule-makers are the issues surrounding the border, an ongoing risk. On Tuesday evening, it was announced the latest MIQ room release was postponed due to the "unprecedented number of Omicron cases". This no doubt was a tough decision to make but not totally unexpected given the warnings from health experts recently.
And with children aged 5 to 11 years old now eligible for the vaccine and booster shots well underway in both districts, it would be hard to deny them the green setting.
But here lies the problem for the Government: Does it double down on public health restrictions because of Omicron? Or does it open things up, providing much-needed reprieve to businesses and helping locals return to a feeling of normalcy after a tumultuous two years?
If history was your guide, the former would be a more likely result than the latter with this Government opting for the cautious approach throughout the pandemic. On the other side of the coin, at some point, we will need to learn to live with the virus.
My view is more needs to be known about the potential Omicron outbreak.
Either way, it's important that we continue to follow the guidelines set out for us because following the framework has worked at squashing out community transmission in New Zealand during the pandemic so far.