Business events of all sizes are set to restart in New Zealand next week, with the country expected to move to Alert Level 1.
In an announcement on Wednesday (3 June 2020), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined what Alert Level 1 would look like, saying groups of any number would be allowed to gather for events.
Cabinet will decide on Monday, 8 June whether and when to move to Alert Level 1, however the business events industry is confident the changes will come into effect from Wednesday, 10 June.
Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) chief executive Lisa Hopkins said the industry is pleased to be accelerating the return back to business, starting with a domestic audience.
“Getting to this level has taken less time than we originally envisaged back in March, and we are now the envy of the world,” she said.
“New Zealand’s team of five million has proved we can unite against this virus, and our industry is committed to keeping New Zealand safe for meetings.
“We want people to understand business events are the safest type of event you can hold, because they are highly organised and managed by professionals who work under strict codes of practice,” she says.
Hopkins reiterated that it is “safe to hold a conference, seminar, workshop, incentive travel event and gala dinner” under the country’s enhanced track, tracing, health and hygiene standards.
“We will also be working with the broader events sector to develop a voluntary code, to support New Zealand’s efforts in the key area of public health,” she said.
The decision comes less than a week after the NZ Government allowed multiple groups of 100 delegates to attend conferences.
Industry bodies support the move
Arna Wahl Davies, chair of the CINZ-approved Professional Conference Organisers Group, welcomed the news to restart business events.
“Once again we will be showing leadership by maintaining the high protocols and processes we had prior to Covid-19, and which have been further enhanced during the pandemic, and we won’t be going back,” she said.
“As accredited event professionals, we will be voluntarily working to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene, tracking and tracing to ensure business events are safe now and in future.”
Also in support of the expected move, Brett Jeffrey, general manager of the Australasian (NZ) Society of Association Executives said clients should feel confident to move forward with their industry events.
“This is a positive step forward and will go a long way to providing much needed reassurance that planning for association conferences can begin in earnest,” he said.