The New Zealand International Comedy Festival is the latest public event to cancel as the battle against Covid-19 widens and sees social distancing override entertainment.
The annual event's headlining international comedians - this year scheduled to have been Australian Felicity Ward and kiwi expat Tape Face Boy - were already facing considerable hurdles to appear with the mushrooming of self-isolation requirements and travel bans across the globe.
The event had been expected to see dozens of local comic performing shows for tens of thousands of punters at nearly two dozen venues - largely bars and small theatres - in Auckland and Wellington from April 30.
While the majority of comics were scheduled to perform venues well-below the 500-capacity maximum crowd size announced by prime minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, festival organisers said in a statement they were obliged to take heed of government guidelines around events and mass gatherings intended to be held over the coming months.
Festival general manager Lauren Whitney said she and her board had spent the past few days attempting to determine if a scaled-down festival, with local performers and venues encouraging social distance, was possible.
"All options were on the table - but its not feasible, or safe, or the right thing, to put on a festival on at this time."
She said for most New Zealand comedians, their festival show represented their largest slice of income for the year and the cancellation - and ongoing turmoil - was devastating.
"Not only is the festival cancelling - but also corporate and commercial gigs are all going too. It's a collapsing set of cards for performers."
The event, which has run each year since 1993 without interruption, is best known for its televised gala, and the granting of the Billy T award for best upcoming comic.
There was the prospect of holding the gala later in the year, if health authorities relaxed attendance limits.
"It's not going to be an easy year, but we're absolutely committed to bringing the festival back in 2021," she said.
Existing ticket-holders would be contacted by agencies regarding refunds. Festival organisers urged those able to consider not claiming their purchase price back and instead consider it as a donation to a struggling industry.
"We are deeply concerned about artist and industry welfare. We will be looking at ways that we can collectively work to keep our industry afloat and combat some of the challenges that this unprecedented situation has created," a statement from the festval said.
The cancellation follows a similar decision being made on Monday by the Auckland Writer's Festival, also scheduled to run in May, with disruptions to entertainment and other industries industry from the Covid-19 outbreak now stretching out months with no clear signs of when they might abate.