August 19, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins has warned the New Zealand industry faces another lengthy disruption after a countrywide lockdown was announced on Tuesday.

The New Zealand business events association supports the lockdown and acknowledges the effectiveness of previous lockdowns in eliminating COVID-19 from New Zealand but Hopkins says stakeholders “must be prepared once again for a period of disruption for our industry”.

The whole of New Zealand is at Alert Level 4 for at least three days, with Auckland expected to be under lockdown for at least one week. Only virtual events can take place at Alert Levels 3 and 4.

“Even when restrictions lift, our sector is too idiosyncratic and cannot simply switch on like other industries. Significant lead time is required to book, plan, and deliver business events, which is why industry specific support for our sector is required into 2022,” says Hopkins.

“Experience tells us the Government does not skip an alert level, so expect Alert Level 3 will follow for periods as yet unknown. We know from our Australian colleagues, how devastating this particular variant can be.

“This is where event insurance would have played such an important role in supporting our sector. BEIA, in conjunction with our insurance partner Eventcover, presented a proposal to officials requesting support to cover the premium. We would have been the only country in the world with some sort of insurance for events disrupted due to COVID.

“This would have been crucial weapon in our anti-COVID toolkit, along with vaccination, to restore confidence, keeping a pipeline of events in view and supporting businesses retain key and highly skilled staff. However, this is now likely in doubt,” says Hopkins.

“The Government has our 100% backing for the current actions, but we will be looking to have further dialogue when we are back in Level 1, to identify ways that we can ensure a sustainable industry and restore confidence which plunges after every lockdown.”