April 14, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | The new settings pave the way for the. return of business events like MEETINGS

The New Zealand government moved the country to the orange setting of its COVID-19 Protection Framework at one minute to midnight last night, which removes the 200-pax limit for all indoor events.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement yesterday, less than 24 hours before the change took effect.

Under the Orange settings, capacity limits have been removed for events and hospitality settings and seated service is no longer a requirement for food and drink.

Masks are still required in most indoor settings, but not for events.

“The revised COVID-19 Protection Framework we introduced three weeks ago has effectively managed the Omicron outbreak at Red,” Hipkins said.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a sustained reduction in cases and hospitalisations despite the relaxation of settings, so we’re confident a move to Orange can lock in those gains while helping the country return to a greater degree of normality.

“But there is still Omicron in the community, and the threat of new variants arriving here is still risk, so I urge everyone to continue to be cautious and think about the health of others, especially those who are immunocompromised or at higher risk of long-term health impacts from infection,” he said.

New Zealand’s flagship business events association Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) welcomed the move to orange, declaring New Zealand open for business events.

“For the first time since mid-August 2021, the business events industry can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that New Zealand is moving from Red to Orange level from 11.59 pm, Wednesday, 13 April,” said BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins.

“With confirmation of a move to the Orange setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework and borders reopening, we are very much open to hosting large business events.

“There is pent-up demand from Australian, international, and domestic event organisers with a robust booking pipeline waiting in the wings.

“Business events are critical to New Zealand’s recovery. The desire to meet face-to-face has never been stronger, and the return of in-person meetings and events, and people travelling for business events has never been more important. This will bring a positive impact right across our economy and our communities,”

“Our high-quality business visitors travel across New Zealand to meet customers, close sales or attend a conference, and often stay a few days afterwards to experience a little piece of paradise somewhere in our country. They bring much-needed support to our accommodation, retail, and hospitality sectors.

Hopkins also said the associations major trade event, MEETINGS, had seen strong indications of attendance.

“BEIA’s annual trade show, MEETINGS set for June 2022 has attracted registrations from hundreds of Australian and New Zealand event managers and professional conference organisers already.

“They will be ready to book future business with 200 exhibitors from 18 regions of New Zealand at the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on 15 and 16 June.

“There is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting, which is proven to lead to more fruitful business opportunities and can help power New Zealand’s recovery,” Hopkins says.