Piako Post

Mixed reaction to Covid call

- TE AOREWA ROLLESTON

As small businesses and venues celebrate following a relaxation of Covid 19 restrictio­ns, for a major Waikato calendar event, the possibilit­ies are still uncertain.

‘‘For us with Fieldays, it has little impact on our decision to push it out to November, said CEO of National Fieldays Peter Nation.

Last Wednesday the government outlined sweeping changes to its Covid 19 rules, including the use of vaccine mandates and vaccine passes as well as gathering limits.

From midnight, on Friday 25th March, outdoor gathering limits were wiped completely, and indoor gathering limits were pushed 200 people.

The use of vaccine mandates and vaccine passes will also be gone from midnight 4th April.

The Prime Minister said the changes came in response to New Zealand moving towards its Omicron peak and as a result it was time to give the economy greater support.

‘‘New Zealand’s successful management of the Omicron outbreak and high rates of vaccinatio­n mean it’s now safe to ease the restrictio­ns that have successful­ly prevented widespread health and economic damage’’ Ardern said.

‘‘The evidence shows we are coming off the Omicron peak with cases in Auckland having already declined significan­tly, and a decline expected nationally by early April.

‘‘Like many other countries we are retaining a small number of mandates targeted at keeping our Covid-19 frontline staff safe and to ensure our most vulnerable, like those in aged care facilities or those with disabiliti­es, are protected from the virus’’ she said.

But while some smaller businesses were relieved by the news, larger venues and events have laid out their concerns that the loosening of restrictio­ns has not given the leeway they needed.

Each year in June, the 114-hectare site at Mystery Creek is packed with over 130,000 attendees and 13,000 contractor­s for the largest agricultur­al event in the Southern Hemisphere.

He could understand the Government’s cautious approach towards relaxing restrictio­ns but their exhibitors alone, would fill the 200 person indoor limit, so they were holding on for a change to the orange traffic light level.

‘‘We still can’t operate under these rules, particular­ly under the 200 indoor capacity’’ he said.

For the popular Matamata tourist attraction, Hobbiton tours, the loosening of rules was the certainty they needed to host their first Middle Earth halfling marathon.

They kept their doors open to limited gathering numbers throughout the pandemic, but the switch to unlimited outdoor numbers was the boost they needed going forward.

‘‘I thought it was pretty fantastic that as a country, we’re at this stage where we can safely loosen these restrictio­ns now’’ said Shane Forrest, deputy executive for Hobbiton film set.

‘‘It’s all steps in the right

‘‘It’s all steps in the right direction and pretty positive as well as we connect again with internatio­nals and start to slowly open our borders and host tourists again. ’’

Shane Forrest

Hobbiton Movie Set

direction and pretty positive as well as we connect again with internatio­nals and start to slowly open our borders and host tourists again’’.

The wedding industry was hit especially hard by cancellati­ons due to Covid 19 restrictio­ns.

For Woodside Estate Wedding venue and function centre owner, Les Cox their booking numbers had been sliced in half and as much as the announceme­nt brought optimism for outdoor events, the summer wedding season had already passed.

And, for Lawrenson Group bar and restaurant chain owner John Lawrenson, frustratio­n at Wednesday’s news was an understate­ment.

‘‘It’s just ludicrous to me...the venues really affected are the nightclubs, the entertainm­ent venues, the venues that rely on 300-500 people and in one of my venues 2000 people inside dancing and enjoying entertainm­ent.’’

Ardern said a move to the orange was on the cards, when there were indication­s that it was safe to do so.

Putting the health of the nation and those most vulnerable was the best economic approach, she said, and the new changes so far would not cause a significan­t impact on the health system or hospitalis­ations.

 ?? ?? Hobbiton Movie Set is one of the larger venues welcoming last Wednesday’s announceme­nt as they plan for large events like their Middle Earth themed Halfling Marathon for 2022.
Left: The 2021 Fieldays event had its largest crowd yet with 132,000 visitors attending.
Hobbiton Movie Set is one of the larger venues welcoming last Wednesday’s announceme­nt as they plan for large events like their Middle Earth themed Halfling Marathon for 2022. Left: The 2021 Fieldays event had its largest crowd yet with 132,000 visitors attending.
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