A statement from the Ministry of Health has left it unclear whether an event at a Dunedin bar breached level 2 restrictions.
It comes after police said they were investigating a raft of issues, including level 2 breaches and people vomiting over a balcony, at a 21st birthday party that took place at Dive, formerly known as The Cook, on Friday night.
The owner believes there were no issues with the event and said his reading of the government rules was that the event was allowed under level 2 without the same restrictions usually in place at bars.
Police continue to say they are investigating level 2 breaches, but a statement from the Ministry of Health sent to the Otago Daily Times this afternoon suggests the event may have been allowed without the usual restrictions.
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said some gatherings could qualify as "special functions".
A number of requirements needed to be met to qualify, including ensuring there was a clear and genuine purpose for the event, having a member of the gathering group agreeing in advance to be the "organiser", ensuring the organiser took responsibility for contact tracing, and using a designated private function room (unless the entire venue was being hired out).
Police said they were called to the bar at 11.30pm on Friday after reports of people smoking cannabis and flicking cigarette butts into a recycling bin containing cardboard.
Acting Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond said police did not locate cannabis when they arrived at the scene but were told people had been vomiting over the balcony.
There were also breaches of alert level 2 Covid restrictions, he said. The 90 people present were not seated and there was no table service.
Bar staff stated they did not have to follow those rules due to it being a private function, he said.
The security guard presented an expired licence, and there was confusion around who the duty manager was - the person whose name was on the duty manager board said the person behind the bar was actually in charge.
Dive operator Mike McLeod said as far as he was aware, police had no issues with behaviour at the event.
He said they had researched the alert level rules and did not believe restrictions such as being seated or table service applied at private functions.
According to the Government's Covid-19 website, social gatherings under level 2 are limited to 100 people and physical distancing should be maintained where possible.
When asked to clarify the situation, Dunedin police alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said private gatherings at licenced premises still needed to have people seated and being served by one person.
That issue was part of the police investigation into the incident, he said.
McLeod was not aware of anyone vomiting over the balcony.
"They were really quite well behaved."
As for the security guard, McLeod believed he was fully licensed and was not aware of the licence being expired.
"As far as I'm aware, the police had no issues."