New Zealand allows multiple groups of 100 in conference venues

New Zealand’s business events sector has received a welcome boost with confirmation that large events with separate groups of 100 can now go ahead.

As the Ardern government begins to move New Zealand through to coronavirus ‘Alert Level 2’, multiple groups of 100 people can now attend conference events; a decision welcomed by Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ).

“These new guidelines give our industry much more confidence to plan forward, knowing we can deliver larger events,” CINZ chief executive Lisa Hopkins said.

“We can now go ahead and confirm bookings for groups of 500, for example, by using five different divisions within the same venue, ensuring groups can move in and out of venues in a safe way.”

It comes after CINZ confirmed in May that business events and conferences would be allowed to go ahead with a total of 100 people, after pursuing an exemption for large events from the government’s designation of mass gatherings.

The changes to the government’s social distancing restrictions mean the overall cap on events remains at 100, not including staff, with multiple groups of 100 now allowed provided they are in separate ‘defined spaces’, CINZ advised.

However, several restrictions remain in place: record-keeping for contact tracing is required for workers and patrons, and people must maintain social distancing of “at least one metre” where practicable.

And, if an event facility is providing food and drink for consumption on site, food and drink restrictions will apply, which can occur in multiples of 100.

Hopkins said that given New Zealand’s excellent track record so far in defeating COVID-19, the country’s restrictions are likely to ease further in “coming weeks and months”, opening further options for planning large-scale events.

Furthermore, CINZ’s chief said the possibility of the trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ would allow businesses to begin preparing to welcome “more people to our venues across the country”.

“New Zealand is ranked top of the world for ease of doing business, low corruption and peacefulness,” she said.

“Add to this New Zealand’s reputation as a world leader for government COVID-19 communication, our excellent venues and infrastructure, and we are in a strong position to be one of the most globally trusted places to meet.”