The Tauranga Business Awards 2021 is moving to a hybrid digital-physical format because of the heightened safety risks of the Covid-19 climate.
The Tauranga Chamber of Commerce has decided to adapt its annual awards evening on November 12 to ensure the safety of its attendees and the wider Bay of Plenty community.
Originally planned to be a cocktail evening at Farmer Autovillage for more than 350 guests, the new-look format will now host about 100 sponsors, judges, VIPs, the winner of the Corporate Leadership Award and chamber staff.
On the event day, entrants will be sent a hamper of local food and beverages from Bay Venues to host their own parties in their own bubbles.
The winners will be announced via a private live stream for ticket holders and publicly after the event.
Event organiser Anne Pankhurst said it was important for the chamber and everyone involved in the planning, organisation and judging of the awards to continue in some way.
"Watching the Covid-19 situation escalate across the upper North Island, we believe this is the most responsible course of action.
"It ensures we can continue to champion and celebrate our local businesses, who have put an inordinate amount of work into their entries and their businesses over the past year, while also keeping them safe."
Pankhurst said the calibre of entrants this year had been outstanding and it was exciting to see so many new, innovative businesses in the Bay.
"It's always a highlight of the process for our judges as they get to see and hear the passion being poured into fascinating local businesses."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said entrants deserved a platform to celebrate their achievements in what had been "an extraordinary year".
"As any event organiser will know, Covid-19 is a real challenge. Events are an integral part of the Bay's economy and the chamber is doing its part to help support those impacted.
"We felt it was important to lead by example, to try to support the events industry and all its associated suppliers by continuing in a way that puts the safety of our community front and centre, without putting a stop to the event.
"We're very fortunate to be able to have found a solution."
Voting for the NZME People's Choice Award was open until the end ofthe month.
Meanwhile, a new date has been set for this year's business awards in Rotorua.
The Tompkins Wake Rotorua Business Awards will take place on December 16 at the Energy Events Centre.
Rotorua Business Chamber chief executive Bryce Heard said they had received a "massive" amount of entries.
"We have pre-sold more tickets than we have ever sold before and we have more sponsors than ever before.
"We are going to deliver the best possible event we can."
Heard said the chamber had delayed the event until December to allow more time for large scale events to become feasible under Covid-19 guidelines.
"While we had originally hoped to have this event on our rescheduled date of 13 November, we believe the risk of ongoing Covid restrictions will still be too high at that time.
"Such a restricted event would not do justice to the record number of sponsors, attendees and entrants that we have assembled this year."
A vaccine pass of some kind will likely be mandatory and Heard encouraged people to ensure their teams were able to attend by getting vaccinated before the event.
"That is our expectation."
Heard said he appreciated the generosity and patience of their sponsors and event partners and was looking forward to the gala event in December.
"Hopefully, it can double as a good Christmas breakup party."