By CASS MARRETT
Two years since New Zealand first went into lockdown, things are now moving in the right direction, Queenstown businesspeople say.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced from 11.59pm tonight, indoor gathering limits will increase to 200 people, and outdoor gathering limits are removed.
From 11.59pm on April 4, vaccine passes and using the Covid tracer app won’t be mandatory.
HQ New Zealand managing director Rob Stewart-McDonald, whose company specialises in conferences and incentives, says the announcement, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t make a huge difference.
‘‘We need to get rid of the Red traffic light because that’s still a big impediment to events.
‘‘In the next six months we’ve got two events probably worth $2 million each to the Queenstown economy, and a broad range of operators … they can’t happen at a 200-person limit, but at a 300-person limit they can all happen.’’
Stewart-McDonald says the business hasn’t had any events for three months, mainly because the risk of catching Covid would prevent people from returning home immediately.
‘‘You hold an event an hour out of Auckland, everyone who catches Covid can get in their car and drive home.
‘‘If you hold that event in Queenstown, they can’t, because they have to fly.’’
Destination Queenstown marketing and communications director Sarah O’Donnell says for some event organisers, the announcement gives them confidence moving forward.
‘‘We think that having the cap lifted on outdoor events really enables us to have some certainty around them … hopefully it will reinvigorate our events calendar.’’
The Red light setting’s going to be reviewed on April 4.