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NZ: Rollback of restrictions “too late” for festivals

Festival organisers and promoters in New Zealand say that the government’s rollback of restrictions is “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden earlier today (23 March) announced the removal of vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits.

In addition, the limit for indoor gatherings will be doubled, from 100 to 200 people.

The mandate removal and end of the vaccine pass will go into effect from 5 April, while the other changes go into effect from midnight on Friday (25 March).

Splore festival’s John Minty told Stuff he is “bemused” by the timing of the government’s announcement, saying it had come “out of the blue” after months of uncertainty around when festivals could resume.

“It’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way”

“It hadn’t been indicated that if certain things happen, we would have less restrictions,” Minty continues. “So it’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way.”

The festival was originally scheduled to happen between 25–27 February at Tāpapakanga Regional Park but was canned after the government announced a move to the ‘red’ traffic light setting.

Minty said Splore organisers would now assess whether they could pull together the festival for late April.

The government’s announcement comes too late for Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines, after the traditional New Year’s event was postponed until Easter, and then cancelled for the first time in its 19-year-history.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season,” says Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season”

The Gisborne festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the end of the year instead.

Elsewhere, Auckland-based promoter Brent Eccles is pleased to hear that Covid-19 rules are set to be relaxed but felt the changes were “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar – a month into autumn.

“We don’t have any outdoor shows in winter, obviously, so that they’ve gone to one hundred per cent capacity outdoors for us right now is a bit meaningless,” said Eccles.

“It’s good for summer, because we have got the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, and Six60 coming. So that’s good that there are no restrictions there.”

The government’s announcement comes too late for a slate of other festivals including The Other Way (Auckland), Outfields music festival (Auckland), Northern Bass (Northland) and Electric Avenue (Christchurch) – all of which have either been cancelled or postponed.

 


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NZ organisers welcome vaccine passport mandate

New Zealand festival promoters have welcomed plans for a vaccine passport, saying it gives them certainty to plan major events this summer.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans on Tuesday (5 October) for a vaccine certificate system that could be operational by November.

Arden said the government is looking to mandate its use for large festivals, and that festivalgoers will need to get vaccinated this month if they want to go to such events over the summer.

Once available, the vaccine certificate can be printed out or displayed on a mobile phone. A beta version is already available.

Hamish Pinkham, director of Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines Music Festival, told Stuff that the vaccine certificate was good news for promoters and would give him the clarity he needed to run the December event.

“It makes sense that we follow the overseas success in this area.”

Callam Mitchell, director of event production company Team Event, which runs five major events in Christchurch including Electric Avenue in February, says the certificate system means they could plan events with confidence.

“We encourage everyone who wants to attend events this summer to get vaccinated as soon as possible, bearing in mind it’s an eight-week period between doses and the vaccine becoming effective,” says Mitchell.

Bay Dreams director Mitch Lowe, who runs two events set for early January in Nelson and Tauranga, also welcomed the vaccine certificate: “It makes sense that we follow the overseas success in this area.”

New Zealand is on pace to fully vaccinate about 90% of its eligible population by the end of November.

 


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