Up in the air: March event organisers are still deciding whether their events can go ahead. PHOTO: ROSS MACKAY


Queenstown musos and event organisers have been swamped with cancelled bookings due to the Covid red light setting restricting gatherings to 100 people.

‘‘For the majority of working musicians in this town, our regular shows have pretty much hit the dust,’’ muso Sam Ross says.

‘‘A lot of musicians’ livelihoods have been completely turned inside out without any sort of subsidy from the government,

‘‘A lot of people are sweating, including myself.

‘‘Out of everything we had booked, I think we’re down to two weddings which are still currently going ahead.’’

Widespread staff shortages, Ross agrees, mean out-of-work musos should be able to pick up day jobs, but ‘‘there are a lot of musicians out there who are completely unsuited to any other area’’.

Local business events organiser, HQ New Zealand’s Rob Stewart-McDonald, says the situation’s ‘‘pretty bloody shit, to be honest’’.

‘‘We had good domestic bookings for February and March, we’ve now lost three-quarters of them’’.

‘‘We had two big events of nearly 200 people in February, but they’re both postponed — we’ve got one left, but it’s 20 people.

‘‘And we have eight events in March, and I think we’ll end up with two.’’

Stewart-McDonald says if the cap was 200 instead of 100, ‘‘none of our domestic events through February, March or April would have been cancelled, so the govern ment’s arbitrary [cap] is so incredibly destructive for business events’’.

‘‘You can do 100 strangers from every part of the country in a cafe, but 120 people who work together in an office every day are apparently a greater risk.’’

Local wedding planner Sarah Arkin says the restrictions won’t affect her too much ‘‘because we’ve been planning more small and sort of intimate-style weddings’’.

‘‘But especially [for] our business partner, a wedding hire business that tends to deal with larger weddings, there have been quite a few that have had to postpone.’’

Apart from lost bookings, muso Lindsay Woods, whose LA Social band specialises in corporate gigs, says almost the greater threat is performers being deemed ‘close contacts’ of someone who later tests positive for Covid.

‘‘You have to stay at home for 10 days and you can’t deliver your next week-and-a-half’s work, then we go back and the same thing happens.’’

In the know: A guide to what’s on and what’s not

Major events in limbo

Organisers of March events — Macpac Motatapu, New Zealand Open golf tournament and NZ Sotheby’s International Realty Queenstown Marathon — are still deciding whether their events can go ahead.

Motatapu co-owner Craig Gallagher says they’re exploring how to run the event under ‘red’ settings, and bubbles of 100 and rolling starts would be considered.

He says it’s 50-50 whether it will go ahead, but says ‘‘if possible’’ they’ll run the event.

Meantime, NZ Open golf tournament director Michael Glading says a decision will have to be made on the tournament before the end of next week.

As well as planning for a ‘red’ event, borders pose an issue when bringing in international and Kiwi athletes who are currently overseas to compete.

Glading’s waiting to hear from the government about whether the tournament could manage the isolation of athletes instead of MIQ.

A Queenstown Marathon spokeswoman says they’re reviewing the situation and will provide an update as soon as possible.