Rotorua's events sector has been left "disappointed" by the new red traffic light setting, with some organisers having to re-organise, postpone or cancel plans for the upcoming long weekends.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would move to the red setting of the traffic light system after cases of Omicron were found in the community.
At red, there can be up to 100 people in a defined space at the venue at any time, based on one-metre physical distancing, meaning the events during the upcoming long weekends can't go ahead.
Lake Rotoiti Classic and Wooden Boat Parade secretary Rachel Jamieson was not certain whether or not their 25th celebration would be able to go ahead on Waitangi Weekend.
"We're going to have an emergency meeting of our committee and try and decide what to do."
Jamieson said hundreds of people usually headed to the annual event, including from as close as Tauranga and as far as the South Island.
This included the lakeside picnic, where between 300 to 400 were expected.
Jamieson said only the parade was looking likely to be able to go ahead under red but she did not know if they would postpone or cancel.
More than 120 boats were expected to participate in the event.
"This was supposed to be our big one."
It was such a shame, she said, but "it is what it is".
"We can't have any gatherings, which is kind of what the whole day is about. Getting together with like-minded people that enjoy boating and looking at each other's boats."
Cancelled events in the area included the NZ Māori Basketball Aotearoa 2022 national tournament, Music at Band Rotunda Sunday events in February and March, and The RATS Blue Lake Multi-sport Festival scheduled for this Saturday.
A decision on the Rotorua Night and Farmers Markets will be made today.
Waitangi - For the Love of the People was to be held at Te Puia on February 6 but was also cancelled.
Te Paratehoata marae (Tunohopu) committee member Renee Nathan said thousands of people were expected to attend the event and she was disappointed it could not go ahead.
The cost of changing the plan, as well as the restriction of 100 people, meant it was not feasible to hold the event, she said.
"It's a big investment for only a few people to be able to enjoy."
She said it would instead look to next year's event, which would be back in Ohinemutu - but would learn from this experience and plan for potential changes.
More than 6,000 people attended last year's event.
"We're disappointed that we had to make that call.
"The learning from this is that we will be factoring in how our plans can accommodate for being in the red light."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard was in the process of re-organising the Rotorua Business Awards for the fourth time.
It was set to go ahead on February 4.
Hundreds of people would have attended, but it would now be run as a virtual event.
More details would be announced in the coming days.
"It is what it is. We've got to get on and make the best of it."
He "absolutely" felt the situation heightened its understanding of what several sectors were going through.
"We share their pain, we are in the same situation."
The events sector had been one of the worst-hit throughout the pandemic, he said.
"There's a whole lot of businesses that hang off those; cafes, hospitality, retail etc, have also been hit badly."
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson said Rotorua activities, accommodation, restaurants and cafés continue to operate safely under the Covid guidelines.
"We'd encourage all Rotorua locals to ensure their friends and whānau around the country are aware that we are open for business."
However, he acknowledged that the red settings make it "really challenging" for major events to proceed and the implications will be different depending on the type and scale of the event.
"It's fantastic to see the Whaka 100 event is still going ahead this weekend," he said.
"As a controlled-access event operating as a commercial recreation activity, the 50km, 100km and 160km will go ahead but with some modifications to protect the safety of participants and comply with the Covid-19 Protection Framework."
Organisers of the Whaka100 mountain bike event have kept its website up to date and planned for any sudden changes in the traffic light settings.
"We know this is a challenging time for all our participants and we appreciate your patience and support as we've worked through the challenges that Covid-19 has created, which is why we wanted to provide you an update," the website stated.
"We also know that you will have more questions and we will be emailing all our participants with specific information on their event they entered in the next 48 hours."
The Whaka 100 mountain bike marathon was scheduled for Labour Weekend in October last year to January 29-30 this year.