Traffic light settings are now in place for all of New Zealand. The Horizons region is currently at Orange.

To find out more about the national response, please see the government's Unite Against COVID-19 website.

As the country collectively responds to this pandemic, it's important that we share the practical steps Horizons and the Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MWCDEM) group are taking to keep our people safe.

Jump to:

What the traffic light settings mean for you
Testing and vaccinations
Welfare and support
Horizons service centres
Public transport
Council and Committee meetings

How we're responding

While the Ministry of Health is the lead agency for a pandemic response, Civil Defence has a role to play in ensuring all responding agencies are connected.

For the Horizons Region, this includes four district health boards – MidCentral, Whanganui, Lakes and Waikato – the region’s city and district councils, emergency services, and government agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development.

As the MWCDEM Group lead, Horizons activated our Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) in Palmerston North on 18 August 2021. This response has now been scaled back to align with current traffic light levels, our Emergency Management team will now look after the response.

The ECC is responsible for the regional coordination of the national pandemic response. Functions include intelligence, planning, operations, logistics, welfare and public information management.

What the traffic light settings mean for you

  • Wear a mask in public settings. 

  • Scan Covid-QR codes anywhere you go. 

  • Keep a one metre physical distance from people you do not know.

  • There are no restrictions on who can be included in your household bubble. 

  • Students are able to return to school. 

  • All businesses are able to open however they will be operating adhering to public health rules.  

    Find out more on the Unite Against Covid website

Testing, vaccinations and boosters


Testing centres and staff are facing high demand, so please be patient. With such high demand, please only get tested if you are a contact, have visited a location of interest at the specific date(s) and time(s), or have cold and flu symptoms.

If you do need to get a test, visit the Healthpoint website - at - to find a site near you.

Find out more about COVID-19 testing on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Vaccines and boosters

Being vaccinated protects you against COVID-19. While you can still become infected, you are less likely to transmit the virus and less likely to be hospitalised with serious illness.

Everybody aged 5 and over can receive their free COVID-19 vaccine now. In most places walk-ins are welcome and no appointment is required. A list of vaccination centres is available on the Ministry of Health website.

If you have been fully vaccinated for more four months or more (fully vaccinated being four months since your second vaccination) then you are eligible for your booster. 

Find out more about vaccinations and boosters on the Ministry of Health website.

Welfare and support

It’s OK to ask for help. As we work through this together, there are people and agencies able to support you.

If you are sick, or can’t leave home to buy food or essential supplies, you can ask family, whānau, friends or neighbours to drop off goods and groceries for you. Talk to your support networks like family, whānau, friends, and neighbours to see if they could deliver essential items to you. If this is not an option for you, there are other ways you can get essential items delivered.

Find out more about the welfare and support services available during the lockdown.

Use the Healthpoint website to find your local pharmacy's contact details to discuss access to medication.

If you have tried and can’t access support through any other agencies, please call us on 0508 800 800.

Horizons service centres

Our service centres are open to the public under red and orange settings.

Regional House in Palmerston North is currently open to the public until 4.30pm, to allow for cleaning to take place at the end of the day. 

We recommend you make any enquires or contactless payments online if possible:
If you don't have access to email, you can give us a call on 0508 800 800.

Public transport

At all traffic light settings, public transport services will continue to run to normal schedules. Face coverings remain mandatory and while physical distancing is not mandatory, you must remain seated while travelling on the bus.
Cash fares and Bee card transactions will be able to take place on the bus. Those who can tag on and tag off with their Bee card should do so. People are able to register and top up their Bee cards online at

QR codes for the NZ COVID Tracer App are on board all buses for passengers to scan.

Council and Committee meetings

Under the red and orange settings, Council and Committee meetings are not open to the public to attend. Most meetings will be recorded and will be available to watch on our website within 24 hours of their conclusion.

Regional Council meetings will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page. Head to the Council calendar to see dates and find related information/supporting documents for each meeting.