The Prime Minister is under fire over her decision to wait 48 hours before announcing decisions Cabinet has made around vaccine mandates, passes and the wider Covid-19 protection framework.
It comes after Health Minister Andrew Little's admission removing vaccine passes would not increase hospitalisations.
Opposition MPs say if the point of the restrictions is to save the health system and they are no longer doing that then they need to go as soon as possible.
However, experts say the peak of the Omicron outbreak is not the time to be relaxing restrictions, and any changes should only come in once cases have stabilised.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday Cabinet had signed off on decisions on vaccine mandates, certificates and the traffic light system.
She will outline them on Wednesday, once a bit of further work is done. She said 48 hours were needed to finalise the advice and consider any knock-on effects.
She said changes were not immediate, and the extra 48 hours would not make any difference to when the decisions took effect.
Act Party leader David Seymour said the delay showed the Government cared less about the public, who had been affected by the restrictions, and more about podium time. "It's no longer an eternity, it's an Ardernity."
Earlier Little had said if restrictions were lifted now, on vaccine mandates, passes, and gathering limits hospitalisations would not increase.
"The whole point of the restrictions was to save the health system," Seymour said. "If it's no longer doing to that then they should go. There's no need to wait for tourists, just do it now."
National's Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop said if the evidence was there to remove mandates and vaccine passes it should be announced as soon possible. "People are sick of announcements about announcements.
"The whole justification is to protect the health system and if data shows there is no risk any more they need to get rid of them as soon as possible."
However, experts say any changes should only come in after cases and hospitalisations had plateaued - which was likely in a few weeks.
A blog post published by Otago University experts Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Michael Baker said while case numbers had likely peaked, caution was needed in relaxing restrictions to avoid further waves, as had been seen in Australia.
Cases could stabilise at about 1000 cases a day but with about 200 to 300 people in hospital - still a huge strain on the system and any extra pressure needed to be avoided.
They called for more efforts to increase vaccination levels for children and booster coverage, with just 73 per cent of the eligible population boosted, and just 59 and 60 per cent respectively for Māori and Pasifika.
They also said mandates should be kept for certain industries interacting with vulnerable people and vaccine passes changed to include a booster dose, although their requirement could be dropped for many settings and decisions left to businesses and individuals.
While two doses and/or prior infection was shown to be effective at reducing transmissibility of Delta, it was less effective with Omicron.
Mask use should continue in key indoor settings and ventilation improved where possible.
The Green Party has urged the Government to listen to the experts and wait until "well after" the Omicron peak has passed before relaxing any measures.
Covid-19 response spokesman Teanau Tuiono said instead of discussing what Covid-19 protection measures to remove and when, Cabinet should be discussing how it can continue to protect those most at risk.
"Not only to get through the current outbreak but to prepare for any new variants over winter."
Ardern said for those who were worried about vaccine passes and mandates being removed - such as the immunocompromised - she said a number of the unvaccinated will have had Covid-19 in the Omicron outbreak and that meant the vaccine passes were less useful.
The mandates have seen high vaccination coverage across the various sectors, and Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has said they were no longer needed given the high coverage.
A Kantar poll earlier this month, conducted for the Herald, showed almost two-thirds of voters agreed mandates were necessary for some jobs while one third either disagreed or did not feel strongly either way.
There was very little appetite for keeping mandates in the long term - only 14 per cent believed the mandates should stay in place indefinitely.
Ardern also defended the Government's quiet announcement of changes to allow unvaccinated New Zealanders to return without isolation periods.
Ardern said the numbers were relatively small because many other countries and airlines had vaccination requirements.
She said the decision to allow unvaccinated New Zealanders back in was made at the time the other border decisions were made. There was "a range of advice, including health advice". But would not specifically say whether there was legal advice on it.
Another nine people died from Covid-19 on Monday, including a person in their 20s - the second-youngest death in the pandemic.
The total number of publicly reported Covid-related deaths was now 184.
There were 14,463 new community cases of Covid-19 reported and 1000 people in hospital, including 33 in intensive care.
The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 17,124.
The Omicron wave continued to trend downwards, with experts saying the outbreak had peaked in Auckland, and likely also in other parts of the country.