Jenna's simple guide to the traffic light system for people running events.
26 November 2021
Jenna's simple guide to the traffic light system for people running events.

At Booking Rooster, courses and events are our lifeblood. People streamline their course and event management processes with our software, and we work hard to keep up ahead of changes in technology and in these industries. With the move to the traffic light system on 2 December people are scrambling to work out what it will mean for the events sector. In this guide we look at:

  • The limits for venues, events and gatherings at each level
  • Vaccine exemptions
  • Mask requirements
  • Pass scanning

The rules have changed frequently during the pandemic so the best we can promise is that this article is correct at the time it was last updated (3 December 2021). It is important to know that the “pass & mask” restrictions apply to everyone at your events including facilitators, volunteers, caterers, service staff, on-site administration staff and subcontractors.

What are the limits on numbers at each traffic light level?

For Venues

Some venues cannot admit anyone aged "12 years and 3 months" or older who does not have a current Ministry of Health "My Vaccine Pass" - at any level. Be sure to check and respect the limits of your venue. Social distancing may be required by the venue and/or by the traffic light level. Remember to check the venue’s capacity with 1m social distancing. If you are providing food or drink check its capacity when people are seated & separated.

For Events

There are no limits to the number of people you can host at events in green or orange provided you require everyone aged "12 years and 3 months" or older to present the My Vaccine Pass before entering. In red, events that require the pass are limited to 100 people with 1m distancing.  These either need to be outdoor community events or have "controlled-access" which is defined as "involving ticketing, registration or another way."

If you do not to require the pass you can run very small outdoor, socially distanced, community events without requiring the pass. You can have up to 50 people at these events in orange or 25 people in red. You can also run "controlled access" events in green. You can have no more 100 people at these events and need 1m distancing. Your guests need to be seated and separated for food service.

These are your options and limits for events at each traffic light.  As far as we know staff and performers are not included in the 100 people limits.  Limits are for both indoor and outdoor events unless specified:

Traffic Light Pass Required Pass Not Required
Red Up to 100* Some outdoor up to 25 **
Orange No limits Some outdoor up to 50**
Green No limits Up to 100 ***
* With controlled access, 1m social distancing. People need to be seated at a table to eat or drink. If the  event is at a cinema, theatre & stadium people may eat or drink in their seat.
** Only outdoor community events with uncontrolled access (e.g. a parade or fair) and 1m distancing
*** With 1m social distancing. People need to be seated at a table to eat or drink. If the  event is at a cinema, theatre & stadium people may eat or drink in their seat.

For Gatherings

The framework has different rules for events than for gatherings. Gatherings include things like “weddings, tangihanga, places of worship and marae, social sports.” It gets no clearer than that. If you are running a gathering, not an event, these are your limits:

Traffic Light Pass Required Pass Not Required
Red Up to 100* Up to 25*
Orange No limits Up to 50*
Green No limits Up to 100*
* If a gather is not at your home 1m social distancing is required.


What about people with vaccine exemptions?

The Ministry of Health (MOH) issue the pass to vaccinated people and to anyone with a vaccine exemption. Event organisers do not need to know a person’s vaccination status – only whether they have a current pass.

To mask or not to mask

Up until now masks have not been mandated. They have been 'encouraged.’ That is about to change. Face coverings are now mandatory in 'public venues' under orange and red, just like they are on flights, public transport, taxis and retail at those levels. Masks are encouraged elsewhere.

Scanning the pass

We have heard that scanning passes is optional for event managers. We can’t confirm nor deny. What we can say is that the pass is of no value unless it is scanned. Anyone with a little graphic design skill can make a good fake.

The only way to be sure a pass is valid and current is to scan it using the NZ Pass Verifier. You can download this from your Apple App Store or Google Play. Some articles suggest other developers can build this functionality into their apps. Watch this space.If you already use the ticket scanner from Booking Rooster or Events Pronto you will find the verifier a breeze.

Here are some tips for event managers who are new to using scanner apps:

  • Download the verifier app to your device now and scan your own pass. It is never a good idea to download and try it for the first time on event day.
  • Charge the devices you will use for scanning fully.  If processing a lot of people, take chargers and spare devices.
  • You need to scan in good light – not too dark, not too light. Mood lighting and strong sunlight are your enemies.
  • Similarly, if the attendee’s present their pass on a phone with a screen setting that’s too light or too dark your scanner will not read the QR. Practice resetting the brightness on both Apple and Android phones well before the event so you can help people who have this problem.
  • Verifying passes takes time. Allow time and people for this.

Help your community to arrive ready for scanning by sending tips like these in your booking confirmations and reminders:

  • People aged 12+ need to present their NZ My Vaccine Pass to gain entry to this event. The pass needs to be the NZ Pass as verifier can’t read the international passes from MOH.
  • Paper passes need to be printed clearly, not creased through the QR code and not smudged, wet or crumpled
  • If presenting a pass on your phone be sure it's charged, the screen is clean and you have the QR code up and waiting when its your turn to scan.


When planning or reviewing an event start by checking the limits for your venue. Then, consider the impact of the traffic light system on the number of people you can have at the event.

If you require the My Vaccine Pass you can run events of unlimited size under orange and green and events with up to 100 people, 1m socially distanced under red.  If serving food under red, people need to be seated and separated.

If you do not require the pass you can only run ticketed events in green. You can have no more than 100 people at these events and need 1m distancing.  If serving food, people need to be separated and seated. The limits are different for ‘gatherings,’ but it is not very clear how events and gatherings are defined.

Scanning may or may not be mandatory for events that require a Vaccine Pass but it is the only way to check that the passport is valid and current. Be sure to practice scanning before your event, plan to scan in a place that has good light and allow plenty of extra time for scanning. Include helpful tips in your confirmations and reminders so people arrive ready to have their pass scanned.

About the Author

Jenna Tournier

"Ko Te Aroha te maunga.
Ko Waikato te awa.
Ko Ngati Mahuta te iwi.
Ko Jenna tōku ingoa.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā
koutou, tēnā koutou katoa"


Jenna is the Digital Alchemist at Booking Rooster, the course and event management software that’s by Kiwis for Kiwis. Booking Rooster also supports community organisations and small enterprises by providing the Events Pronto platform that makes event ticketing over easy.
She is also co-founder of Circles of Change. Her personal mission is to create very connected communities. At Booking Rooster she helps deliver the people-centric Booking Rooster software to organisations - saving them time, significantly reducing admin costs and boosting registrations for their events and courses.
Start your korero with Jenna today:
09 390 52221, 022 307 9006 or