Many events cancelled or deferred

Several events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, including the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. Photo: Southland Express Files

ORGANISERS of major events in Southland are taking a pragmatic approach to the Covid-19 situation with many now on hold or cancelled with one case of Covid-19 being confirmed in Invercargill.

Last night, the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival committee was meeting to confirm the cancellation of the festival with organisers still working out how to refund ticket buyers.

The event drew about 4500 people last year, with visitors from throughout New Zealand and overseas keen to get a taste of the famous delicacies on offer.

This year, the event sold out in record time with all tickets sold by mid-January.

Trustee Kylie Fowler said the oyster festival committee was “waiting on Government to finalise the details” and was holding a meeting last night to discuss what the next steps would be and how refunds would be processed, she said.

The decision from the meeting was not available at the time the Southland Express went to print.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sheree Carey said the cancellation of the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival, as well as similar events, would hurt the accommodation and hospitality sectors in “what is already an uncertain time for them”.

She said it was also damaging to the smaller businesses who had stalls on the day as well as the Invercargill Airport.

The Government’s Covid-19 business response package was “cautiously welcomed” and the chamber would help co-ordinate a collaborative regional approach to combat the serious economic impacts felt, she said.

“There are a lot of very concerned people around our region, particularly in sectors that had already been feeling the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, and we’re determined to do everything we can to support them through this difficult time.”

She encouraged people to shop locally.

The Tussock Creek Music Festival, which encompassed the Gold Guitar Awards, was also cancelled this week.

“The hard-working team behind Tussock Country are gutted to have to cancel this fantastic, new festival event,” chairman Jeff Rea said.

“We’ve had enormous support for all of the 32 events we had planned. The way organisers of individual events have come together to create the festival has been outstanding.”

People who had already bought tickets to any of the festival’s events would be contacted by iTICKET staff to arrange a refund, he said.

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said he was actively following guidelines set by the Government.

“At this stage we’re working with both our franchises, the Southern Steel and Southland Sharks, looking around solutions with the national body as well.”

Netball New Zealand’s announcement around localised competitions was going to impact on the venue, he said.

“That will have a more wide-reaching effect on our venue with no community netball until May 2.”

Mr Skelt received clarification the velodrome and stadium would be counted as two separate venues, as long as different entrances and exits were used for each. A limit of 500 people would apply to both of those venues.

The Invercargill City Council had decided to postpone its ARTcade 2020 event, which would now be held at a later date.

Many upcoming events at the Civic Theatre had also been cancelled or rescheduled.

A statement on its website read “Because of the coronavirus situation it has been suggested that we do not hold any public gathering or event at the moment. This is a quickly evolving situation, and we are expecting more events to be rescheduled and/or cancelled in the coming days.”

The Cancer Society had postponed all Relay For Life events, including the Southland event to be held this weekend.

A statement on its website said: “We would like to thank all our event participants, volunteers and staff for the huge amount of work that has been done to plan and manage these events so far. We look forward to announcing new event dates when we can.”

Central Southland College’s School Ball was postponed indefinitely, with the school also ceasing assemblies. “We remain hopeful that the current situation will pass in time for the ball to be held before the end of the year,” a statement on its website said.

A directive from Motorsport New Zealand had meant the Southland Sports Car Club (SSCC) NZ Super Truck meeting at Teretonga Park, near Invercargill, was also cancelled.

SSCC promotions officer Lindsay Beer said the “club was disappointed this decision had to be taken but thanked their loyal supporters for their attendance at Teretonga Park throughout the season”.

Prepurchased tickets would be refunded, he said.

Invercargill City Libraries and Archives would continue to post regular updates on its website in regards to developments and how to prevent the spread of the virus.

The fifth annual Try-Whanau Triathlon and Family Festival, scheduled for Bluff this weekend, had been cancelled.

Awarua Whanau Services made the decision to cancel as per Ministry of Health guidelines, a spokesperson said. we were excited about Try-Whanau, it’s about keeping whanau safe.

Cancelled or postponed events:

  • Te Anau Tartan Festival
  • Southland Relay For Life
  • Tussock Country Music Festival
  • Mataura Licensing Trust NZ Gold Guitars Awards 2020
  • Central Southland College School Ball
  • Jehovah’s Witness Conference at Civic Theatre
  • World of Musicals at Civic Theatre
  • Symphony Orchestra Tribute at Civic Theatre
  • Roger Hall play at Civic Theatre
  • Daniel O’Donnell at Civic Theatre
    Southland Dairy NZ Awards

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