Thousands of classic car fans and business owners on the Coromandel Peninsula are anxiously awaiting a decision from Whangamata Beach Hop organisers on whether the iconic nostalgia festival will be cancelled.
Organisers of the five-day event, which turns 20 this year and attracts more than 100,000 people to the Coromandel each year, are to announce their decision at 3pm on Monday.
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Up to 1000 pre-1972 cars, estimated to be worth more than $28 million, are due to arrive on the Coromandel next week for the March 25-29 celebration, which traditionally books out all local motel, hotel, apartments and motor camps and is a cornerstone of the annual economies of local towns Whangamata, Whitianga and Waihi Beach.
A Thames-Coromandel District Council study in 2018 estimated the Beach Hop injected more than $7m a year into the Coromandel economy.
Demand for house rentals - and their prices - also soar during Beach Hop week as 50s and 60s car and nostalgia fans from all over New Zealand and overseas traditionally flock to the Coromandel, with many treating Beach Hop week as their annual holiday.
With some mass gathering events already cancelled because of the risk of coronavirus spread, many Beach Hop fans are speculating on Facebook the non-profit, charity event will be cancelled.
However, dozens of other posters say they will be going regardless, having spent thousands of dollars on pre-booked accommodation and planned their annual holiday around the event.
Founder and organiser Noddy Watts would only say an announcement on the event's status would be made at 3pm Monday. Chief sponsor is Repco and other heavyweight sponsors include Meguiars, Ford and Castrol.
Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie said the financial impact on the organisers themselves and local service businesses if the festival is cancelled would be "huge".
"They will be seriously out of pocket."
The council was on the periphery of the event organisation but its civil defence officials in Whangamata had been working closely with the Beach Hop organisers, she said.
Asked for her message to fans who have pledged to turn up on the Coromandel anyway, Goudie urged them to adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines, and said some businesses might find creative solutions such as drive-in merchandise sales and drive-in movies so people could remain in their cars.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said guidance was being developed on mass gatherings. This would be based on the criteria of: large events in close proximity, events that are non-ticketed and events that have a large overseas number of people.
There was no decided number on how many people constituted a mass gathering but the overseas criteria of 500-1000 was similar to what the Government was considering, she said.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced on Friday the Pasifika festival this weekend has been cancelled. And Sunday's National Remembrance Service marking the first anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attacks has also been cancelled. The Auckland and Wellington services have also been cancelled.