November 2, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Despite recording a record number of 162 new cases yesterday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced some further easing of restrictions for locked-down Auckland will take place next Tuesday, although business events remain out of reach for now.

From next Tuesday, retail and public facilities like museums, libraries and zoos will be allowed to reopen in Auckland, which has been in lockdown since early August. Gatherings of up to 25 people from an unlimited number of households will also be allowed.

In a memo to members after the announcement on Monday, Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins cautioned that the easing of restrictions for the nation’s largest city could still fall over.

“As Auckland begins week 11 of restrictions, the region is hoping that the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s principle decision to ease these restrictions come week 12, does in fact happen,” she wrote.

“In principle decisions have been announced before, only to be whisked away at the last minute, causing huge disappointment and confusion.”

“BEIA is part of an advocacy group of other national and Auckland centric associations to ensure the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers are kept fully aware of the impact this lockdown has had on not just the region, but the entire country from a business perspective.

“We have had the opportunity to share our concerns directly with Minister Nash and feed input to Minister Robertson on support mechanisms for business, but it is clear, we have a long way to go.”

Hopkins did note with satisfaction that events were now being used as a vaccination incentive, as New Zealand edges towards its 90 percent threshold which will see a move to a traffic light system which uses vaccination rather than lockdowns as the prime mechanism for controlling COVID-19, allowing more freedom for normal life to resume.

Auckland is set to move the strictest “red” level of the new system when it hits its 90 percent vaccination threshold across its three district health board regions. As of Monday, 139,687 more vaccine doses need to be administered across the Auckland region before the transition occurs. The nation is currently administering between 40,000 and 50,000 doses on most days across both the North and South Island, meaning major easing of restrictions is some way off for Auckland.

At the red level of the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, business events of up to 100 fully vaccinated people will be able to take place.