Local event organisers react to PM's announcement of Covid-19 vaccine certificate
"If you are booked for a summer festival ... this a warning or a heads-up, go and get vaccinated."
That was the word from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday following the Government's announcement a new vaccine certificate was to be introduced in New Zealand from as early as next month.
The PM said the certificate- a physical document or something you could have on your phone- would be used to lessen the risk in high-risk settings such as hospitality, as well as large gatherings and events like music festivals.
"It's one of the best ways we can ensure summer plans can go ahead uninterrupted," Prime Minister Ardern said.
"To enjoy the things you love, you need to be vaccinated this month, not in December.
"The vaccine is a 'ticket to freedom' and is protecting people against Covid-19."
Ardern stipulated the certificate would not, however, impact people's ability to go to essential services, nor would it be used for public housing.
She went on to say there could be circumstances where certificates weren't mandated by the Government but were mandated by event organisers, for example.
The Far North's largest annual event, the 90 Mile Beach Snapper Bonanza runs for five days in March on the famous Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē (90 Mile Beach).
Each year the event attracts up to 3000 people per day for the duration of the competition and would be what the Government considered a 'large-scale' event.
Event co-founder John Stuart said despite the Government's announcement, there was still uncertainty around what the certificate would look like for his event.
"We are always about safety first for the community and will abide by whatever the Government mandates regarding events and the vaccine certificate," Stuart said.
"We can't really make a decision right now about anything though as we're yet to hear what the Government's exact position is on how that will be implemented.
"If the Government announces that it will be mandatory for all events with more than 1000 people then, of course, we will apply that rule to our event."
Consultation is currently being undertaken with the hospitality industry to see how certificates would work in that sector.
Mangonui Waterfront Festival is another large-scale annual event and extremely popular among locals and people from beyond the Doubtless Bay area.
Somersault Event Management, Doubtless Bay Promotions Inc run the event and spokeswoman Jodi Betts said there were many things to consider following Tuesday's announcement.
"My initial reaction was of course the Mangonui Waterfront Festival is a large event, so will obviously be included in the vaccine certificate roll-out," Betts said.
"My next thought was two-fold, firstly about what it would mean for our kaupapa around being a fully inclusive event and secondly, how would it impact people wanting to attend the event, both locally and from outside the region?"
This year's Mangonui Waterfront Festival was cancelled a week out from being held and was meant to mark the 10th anniversary of the popular festival.
The event was rescheduled to April 2022 and was expected to draw anywhere from 4-5000 people.
Betts said it was almost certain the event would now require additional funding to accommodate new logistical challenges that would arise by mandating the vaccine certificate.
"As a committee group made up of volunteers, we are the community, and it is going to take a lot of work to ensure we provide the best and safest event we can, within the directive we're given," she said.
"Straight away we know we'll have to source more funding because we'll require a lot more extra security and support for our volunteers needing to check certificates and to ensure everything is closed off appropriately."
Betts added it was a tough time overall for the hospitality and tourism industries, with lots of businesses still impacted by Auckland's alert level 3 lockdown.
She said she was also concerned about what it would mean for the local economy.
"I fear, given the already challenging environment, these restrictions might mean we don't see as many of these feel good events, which are already limited in the Far North and are important for our mental health and wellbeing."
In her statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ardern said the vast bulk of feedback from organisers had been positive and that they had welcomed the certificate tool.
The definition of a mass event was still unclear but large-scale concerts were considered under this title.
Ardern said a final decision hadn't been made whether people would need to be fully vaccinated or fully immunised to go to a festival or concert this summer and she encouraged people to bring their vaccination forward as soon as possible.