It was March 2020 when New Zealand announced their first lockdown to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus which had begun its rampage in the Northern Hemisphere. After a strict 7-month lockdown, the Aotearoa were one of the few countries to bring the active case count to zero and restart the country.
Restarting also meant bringing back live events to full speed. New Zealand spent their summer hosting full-scale festivals, bringing people back to clubs and bars while astutely containing the spread of the virus by undertaking an aggressive elimination strategy.
However, things have now changed. After spending 18 months being largely unscathed, the outbreak seems to have caught up in the Southern Hemisphere, forcing major cities like Wellington and Auckland into extended lockdowns, with the latter facing the country’s worst outbreak so far.
The potent Delta variant which caused havoc in countries like India and the UK has made its way to New Zealand, with the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stating that the variant is “a tentacle that has been incredibly hard to shake”.
This has led the New Zealand government to ditch their previously successful elimination strategy and opt for a more radical plan i.e. vaccinating its people at a rapid pace while steadily opening the country in phases.
“Please get vaccinated now; summer is close; and so, to be fully vaccinated and fully protected and do the things you love, you need to be vaccinated this month, not in December. The best Christmas present to your family this year will be to get vaccinated.” said Prime Minister Ardern in a news conference.
New Zealand’s vaccination policy has also changed how large-scale live events and gatherings will function in the future. So, if you are in New Zealand and looking to attends gigs, festivals, etc. in the coming months and the entirety of the Kiwi summer, here’s what you need to do in order to ensure that you get in hassle-free and get back to doing things that you love.
WHAT IS THE PLAN?
You may have heard the term loosely or you may be quite familiar with it, but vaccine passports will be the way forward if you’d like to attend large events in New Zealand this summer. If you wish to attend festivals or simply visit a bar or restaurant, you must now be vaccinated.
“We will use vaccine certificates as a tool to lessen risks at what are currently considered as high-risk settings, including large scale events,” Prime Minister Ardern said at a news conference.
Festival promoters have accepted this news gleefully as they think that the approach will help events over the summer move forward.
Until the Vaccine passports are fully made available to the public, vaccine certificates can be used in digital or printed form as proof of vaccination when you are entering a festival, a restaurant or a pub. It will not be used for places like supermarkets or essential health services.
Visit this link if you want to book your vaccination slot.
RELEVANT DATES AND FRAMEWORK
The vaccine certificates will be ready for use as early as November. The certificate can be printed out or displayed on a mobile phone, with the Government keen to have the vaccine passport framework fully launched by next month.
A new website called “My Covid Record” will go live soon, giving people access to their vaccination records. A “My Health Account” will be created where a vaccine certificate will eventually be generated. Later this month, COVID-19 test results will also be added to the website, and the certificates will be available to show or download from November.
Exemptions will only be made for those who medically cannot get the jab.
The records will show details including batch number, site, and which arm was used. Second vaccinations can also be booked through the system.
More details on the framework will be shared prior to its launch and festival promoters will have an independent app that will allow them to scan the QR codes on certificates. Individuals without digital devices would be able to get a printed version from their health provider.
A beta version of the “My Covid Record” website is available – HERE
WHY IT’S NEEDED AND WHY THE POLICY HAS OUR SUPPORT
You don’t need to dig deep to know the extent of damage COVID-19 and lockdowns have wrecked on the live events industry. Large scale events and clubs have been always been the first to shut down and the last ones to open.
All the stopgap measures taken by different countries to prevent the damage were unsuccessful, leading to some iconic clubs across the globe shutting down due to their inability to sustain the open and close measures that were adopted late last year. Vaccinations have paved the way forward and while there have been debates about personal choice around vaccinations, we fully support the cause because for us A) public health and safety over personal choice and B) getting back to doing things that we love, and one of those things is raving together.
Vaccine Passports will ensure that you get to dance and be safe at the same time. It’s a win-win!
COUNTRIES THAT HAVE ADOPTED THIS STRATEGY
This strategy has been adopted in the UK, USA and the Netherlands and has been successful in ensuring that live events are safe for everyone. The New Zealand government has taken the same route and agreed to the use of vaccine certificates in the country.
New Yorkers are now required to show proof of vaccination in order to attend Broadway shows while club-goers in the UK were made aware that if they haven’t got their jabs, they are not coming in. This move has helped eliminate the danger of the virus spreading at high-risk places like clubs, festivals because vaccinations have proven to be effective in reducing hospitalization in severe cases.
It’s not just clubs. Football associations have implemented similar measures that have enabled them to clubs pack their stadiums to full capacity, allowing fans to enjoy games in person, which wasn’t possible until the middle of 2021. So, it’s no surprise that New Zealand has embraced similar measures.
One thing is clear. If you want to get back to things that you love, go and get the jab if you haven’t already.
WHAT ‘YOU’ NEED TO DO TO KEEP ATTENDING EVENTS
If you are reading this and you have been a part of the live events industry in any capacity – as a festival-goer, club-goer, DJ, promoter, or someone working behind the scenes at clubs or festivals – you need to first ensure that you are vaccinated. If you aren’t, you need to get your jab now! Like we said, public health comes first if you want to enjoy things outdoors.
If you are vaccinated and you know someone who hasn’t taken their jab yet, sit them down, show them the upside of it and encourage them to get vaccinated.