Call to turn remote South Island lodges into quarantine hubs for international stars

The Wiggles Emma, Lachy, Anthony and Simon are facing their own hot potato after failing to get...
The Wiggles Emma, Lachy, Anthony and Simon are facing their own hot potato after failing to get spaces in quarantine head of their New Zealand tour. Photo: Supplied
A concert promoter is calling for dedicated spaces in managed isolation for international acts and even allow remote South Island luxury lodges to be used as quarantine facilities to breathe life into a struggling entertainment industry.

Efforts are under way to try to secure 18 places for The Wiggles entourage in booked-out managed isolation facilities before their New Zealand tour starts mid-March.

The kiddy supergroup risk being shut out after they were given approval for travelling here on Christmas Eve but are now struggling to get quarantine slots.

Some politicians have gone into bat for the group, asking the Government to intervene and allow the much-loved entertainers to sing and dance their way across New Zealand.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a stern warning to promoters bringing in overseas performers without going through the proper managed isolation steps.

"Do not promote an event until you have everything in place - that includes booking your quarantine places," said Ardern.

But Capital C: Concerts owner Phil Spray is taking issue with the Prime Minister's warning, telling NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking the Government has snubbed the live entertainment industry, ignoring requests to discuss how to bring international artists here without compromising our Covid-free status.

He said no one in the industry was looking to bypass health rules, but keen to find alternate solutions that would keep everyone safe and help prop up a struggling industry.

At the very least there had to be space set aside in MIQ for touring entertainment acts.

"There has to be a different set of rules," said Spray.

"They've done special hotels for sports people and yachties, all of a sudden we have a drag television show coming to film at short notice, some movie production has been allowed in, so there's not a consistent delivery of anything. But the problem is there is no game plan."

Spray said he had written to the Government at the start of the pandemic seeking a way artists and events could be brought into the country safely.

Suggestions included having an isolation lodge in the middle of nowhere in the South Island with the artists being flown in on a private jet and pre-tested with all health and security expenses covered by the promoters.

"But that discussion has never taken place," he said.

"The Prime Minister is the minister of the arts yet she has a failure to understand how the arts work and how acts are booked regardless of whether they are small shows, large shows, sporting events. These things do not happen in a two week window. They happen six months, a year ahead.

Spray said New Zealand promoters were in a great position to attract major international acts here with huge potential to earn tax dollars for the Government.

"At the very least they need to work with, discuss and embrace the entertainment industry who are willing to get solutions and not ignore them for getting on to a full year."

He understood why the Wiggles' promoters went ahead with tour plans given at the end of last year there was a high prospect of an Australasian bubble in early 2021.

"The Wiggles, coming from Australia, I think the promoter based upon that thought, 'Yeah, let's book them, let's get things going' and things have changed since."

Yesterday Ardern said officials were looking at finding a practical solution to allow the Wiggles into the country.




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