Whanganui leaders are optimistic about the possibility of moving into the new Covid-19 Protection Framework despite the differing levels of vaccination across the country.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the decision to put the city into the traffic light system will happen soon.
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said we were heading into a "new, new normal" and it was a bit scary.
He would have preferred to run with the elimination strategy, but admitted that didn't seem possible and is too difficult with the Delta variant of Covid-19.
"It is heavily reliant on people being vaccinated," he said. "My plea to people is get vaccinated and if you are nervous about it, go speak to people you trust and speak to health professionals and make your decision.
"Because really, Auckland has done the heavy lifting for the last three months. From now on, anyone who gets vaccinated is doing the heavy lifting for those who aren't.
"I was hoping that would be our main drive. As it isn't, the traffic light system is a way to open up the country carefully."
McDouall believed 90 per cent vaccination was still attainable across all district health boards.
"It's almost a battle between the community and the individual. I always support the community if it comes down to it."
McDouall said there would be more deaths across the country as it opened up.
"Eighteen months ago we were talking about the new normal. Now we are talking about the new, new normal where the virus is out in the community."
Whanganui MP Steph Lewis said there was still some detail to come around what a move to the new framework would look like.
"We have received advice from health officials saying a move sooner should be considered.
"One of the big reasons for that is the Covid Protection Framework was designed to have greater protections in place for when we do have cases in the community like we are seeing now."
Lewis said there were considerations around the implications of moving into the framework and its potential impact on areas with lower vaccination rates.
The Whanganui DHB area is currently 75 per cent double vaccinated and just over 84 per cent of people have had at least one dose.
"We aren't quite there yet. We still have little way to go for our journey," Lewis said.
She said the framework was designed to work alongside high vaccination rates to protect the most vulnerable.
"If you haven't had your first vaccination, my plea would be to go into a vaccination centre and just talk to one of our nurses there.
"What we want to do is ensure for every person who is vaccinated, then join together to form a barrier to protect those who can't be vaccinated."
She said everyone had been given a choice and information to make their decision.
"There are businesses in town that don't intend to apply vaccination certificates, so there will still be choice.
"It's not like people won't be able to go out and socialise full stop. There will still be places, they will be expected to operate sort of how we are now, seated and distanced.
"People are given choices at every level. Will it be different? Yes. The last 18 months have been a learning curve for everyone. The reality is, we can't stay locked down and shut down indefinitely. We have worked really hard to come up with a system to open up as safely as possible and protect as many as possible.
"Twelve months ago we said staying home was saving lives. Now, actually going out and getting vaccinated is saving lives, because that decision does have an impact on other people and not just yourself."