Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: One Love, Classics of the Sky, First We Eat not going ahead

Three major Bay of Plenty events set to happen over the next two long weekends will not go ahead in the red light setting and tens of millions of dollars will be missed in the local economy.

It comes after major events in Tauranga this past weekend brought in an estimated $700,000 boost to the local economy.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that 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.

One Love Festival owner Glenn Meikle said he was “gutted” that they couldn’t run on Saturday.

The team was trying to figure out if they could postpone or if it needed to be cancelled. Ticket holders will know on Wednesday.

The two-day event has sold out to crowds of 20,000 in the last four years.

This would have been Meikle’s first festival as the owner, though he had managed the bar for this and many other events previously as the owner Mount Brewing Co.

“It was so exciting this year because it was my first year. We’d worked really hard on some new branding, big production, all those things.

“We’re just gutted that we can’t show our customers our work, but hopefully we can very soon.”

While it was a difficult time, he said: “I also understand where the Government is coming from.”

He said customer safety was their biggest priority.

First We Eat will not be running on February 5 and organisers were searching for a new date before cancelling.

The boutique food, wine, craft beer and music festival was organised by Neptune Entertainment and director Toby Burrows said there was a “huge” financial impact not running the event so close to the date.

It was the second year of the event which sold out its 4500 tickets last year — and it was on track to do the same this year.

“It’s just another blow. It’s been a tough few years for everyone, especially in the events industry.”

He said a lack of clarity on how long the country was expected to be in red made it difficult to know if the event could be postponed or needed to be cancelled.

Everyone that came to the events needed to be vaccinated which seemed like it was not enough to slow Omicron, he said.

Burrows also organised Le Currents, an Indie Culture & Arts Festival in Taupō which was set for December 27 and postponed due to the region being in red.

However, the postponed date saw over 70 per cent of ticket holders wanting a refund and the event was cancelled.

Classics of the Sky marketing manager Cory Tyler said it was “devastating” that the event needed to be cancelled.

And it could be 2024 until the next.

Set to run on Saturday, the biennial event mostly sold gate tickets to the venue able to hold up to 15,000 people.

The last event saw 10,000 people attend.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the Western Bay will fundamentally be missing out on millions of trade moving through the economy over the next few months.

Events had direct and indirect impacts including where visitors travelled, slept and ate as well as suppliers who have been gearing up for a busy events period, he said.

He said many hospitality businesses had already restricted their operating hours due toinconsistent demand or being short-staffed.

“If there is a silver lining of major events not proceeding, it is that there will be less competition for casual staff, who are now freed up to fill gaps in other sectors, like hospitality and retail.”

Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the local economy could lose tens of millions of dollars in spend in the coming weekends with the loss of the events, though it was difficult to predict right now.

“Hospitality spend showed a resilient market last year but Omicron will be a different beast.”

He said locals need to continue to support local businesses.

Tutt said a bigger issue for businesses over the coming months was the impact on staffing as workforces become sick or need to isolate for extended periods.

“Businesses should prepare for a difficult time ahead.”

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan said the hope was to get through all of summer and ideally past winter before another serious outbreak.

There would be a rise in visitor and spending hesitancy, which will affect accommodation bookings and associated tourism activities.

“Anyone planning to visit our region solely to attend an event that is now going to be cancelled or postponed will be seriously reconsidering their travel plans.”

The event sector had a slow start given the Delta uncertainty, with last weekend”hugely successful” while this coming weekend will be “walloped” by the change in settings.

He said event organisers from the many planned events up until Easter will now be making their own decisions and contingency plans.

He said a positive under the traffic light system was that regional travel borders were less likely to be implemented and more businesses are able to continue operating than in the former alert level 3 and 4 settings.

Events no longer happening:

• One Love Festival: January 29 & 30, 12pm – 11pm at Tauranga Domain
• Classics of the Sky: January 30, 8.30am, Tauranga City Airport

• First We Eat: 5 Feb, 12pm – 7pm at Wharepai Domain, Tauranga

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