The entire South Island of New Zealand will move to Covid-19 level orange on Friday under the Government's traffic light system announced this afternoon.
Orange means life will be close to normal for the vaccinated, with face coverings mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public venues and "encouraged elsewhere".
Record-keeping and scanning are required, with retail and pub facilities open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing.
Life will be more restricted for the unvaccinated.
Many Mainland businesses and community leaders had been calling for the South Island to go straight to the green light.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon said more work needs to be done.
"We are not moving any regions to green immediately while we continue to get vaccination rates up and transition the country to the new framework," she said.
There had also been some fears that some pockets might have been put into the red, including the West Coast where just 79 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Grey District mayor Tania Gibson is relieved that they didn't fall into the red, saying the Government needed to be sensible as there are no cases in the region - and they shouldn't have to be "punished" in the lead-up to Christmas.
Fox Glacier Guiding chief executive Rob Jewell says he's just happy that the West Coast isn't in red.
He says with Auckland coming out of lockdown they have picked up a number of bookings, but says it's still unclear what summer trading will look like this year.
Regional traffic light settings will be reviewed on December 13.
The Government's decision comes as a new variant of Covid-19 gets closer to New Zealand - after confirmation that the potentially more infectious Omicron strain of the virus reached Australia overnight.
It also comes after a border case in Christchurch yesterday, with five close contacts now self-isolating with testing under way.
The case travelled from Auckland to Christchurch on Thursday, November 25, on Air NZ Flight NZ8475, arriving in Christchurch at 10.50am.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she would have loved to have seen the city go green but appreciates that a degree of caution was needed especially, with the new Covid variant emerging.
"In my heart of hearts I would have loved us to be moving to green, but that's not the case," she said.
"It's a really hard decision and I don't want to second guess the Government. They have access to all the information and are receiving technical, expert advice, so I support them in terms of the decision they've made.
"It will provide a good deal more certainty, especially for those of us who are double vaccinated."
Christchurch's partygoers are expected to let loose this Friday.
The Oxford Group which runs Fat Eddies, Original Sin and The Bog has been faced with a raft of restrictions since the Delta outbreak.
But general manager Janelle Pritchard says the dance floors will now be open - and it'll essentially back to normal.
Friday night will be huge, Pritchard says, with a full band scheduled to perform.
The Ministry of Health also confirmed a case in the Nelson-Tasman region today , following a positive test result received last night.
It's the first confirmed case likely to be infectious in the region since last year.
Dr Stephen Bridgman, Nelson Marlborough Medical Officer of Health, says the case and household contacts are in community isolation, and close contacts are in community quarantine with testing of those contacts under way.
Investigations are ongoing over the possible source of infection.
Locations of interest will be published on the Ministry of Health's website today.