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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 faces ‘staggering’ number of event cancellations

A ‘staggering’ number of major events across New Zealand have been cancelled and more are expected, following the country’s recent move to red in the Covid traffic light system.

As of 11:59 pm on Sunday (23 January), indoor and outdoor events across the country are limited to 100 people and the use of vaccine passports is mandatory.

The new restrictions prompted a fresh wave of cancellations including music, food, and wine festivals, sports tournaments, arts events, and a wide array of summer festivities scheduled for February and March.

The latest casualties include the sold-out Splore festival, which would’ve taken place between 25–27 February at Tapapakanga Regional Park in Orere Point.

In a statement, the organisers said the country’s move to red “doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity”.

Organisers said the country’s move to red “doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity”

Elsewhere, The Others Way festival, which was scheduled for next Saturday (29 January) in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, has also been pulled.

Anthonie Tonnon, Carnivorous Plant Society and Coolies were scheduled to perform at the event, promoted by Flying Out, 95bFM and UTR Presents.

Other cancelled events include Auckland Pride Festival (1–27 February), New Zealand Fashion Week (7–12 February, Auckland), Great Kiwi Beer Festival (23 January, Christchurch), Warbirds over Wanaka (15–17 April) and the Bluff Oyster Festival (21 May).

Outfields music festival (Auckland), Rhythm and Vines (Gisborne) and Northern Bass (Northland) have already been postponed.

At the time of writing, no decision has been made on major upcoming festivals including Electric Avenue Music Festival, Urban Polo in Christchurch, South Island Wine and Food Festival.

Only cancelled events or postponed events with more than 5,000 vaccinated attendees can make use of the government insurance scheme, announced last year, which covers 90% of unrecoverable costs.

The move to red in the Covid traffic light system comes after a cluster of nine Omicron cases were recorded.

 


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