Events axed in South after Level 2 return

New Zealand is fast approaching 1200 confirmed cases. Photo: Getty Images
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Events have been cancelled and the first day of university lectures will be held remotely after new Covid-19 cases sparked a return to Alert Level 2 in the South.

Auckland was plunged back into Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country into Alert Level 2 for one week as of yesterday morning, following a Beehive announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern late on Saturday.

The move was prompted by two new community cases in Auckland. A third was confirmed last night.

Alert Level 2 means gatherings are restricted to 100 people, and face masks must be worn on public transport.

The shift meant the final night of University of Otago Orientation Week events was canned.

An Otago University Students’ Association spokeswoman said it was talking to management for drum’n’bass producer Netsky, who was due to perform last night, about an alternate date.

Starters Bar would also be closed.

Today is also the first day of formal lectures for the year, which will be held online as the university transitioned teaching spaces to Alert Level 2 conditions.

In-person teaching is expected to resume tomorrow, except for first-year health sciences lectures, which will remain online for the duration of Alert Level 2 due to space restrictions.

The university also reminded students of gathering limits, stating on its website ‘‘our community is asked to think very carefully before planning any events that will put additional pressure on health services’’.

The level change also wreaked havoc with events around the South, leaving organisers scrambling to postpone or cancel concerts, rodeos and sporting fixtures.

The Maniototo Rodeo Club organising committee said “luck is not on our side this season” after it was forced to cancel for the second time.

The event was due to begin on Saturday after being rescheduled because of a weather event on December 27.

Club president Stuart Weir, of Ranfurly, said about 240 competitors and an audience of up to 1000 people had been expected.

‘‘At this stage, we have cancelled it for this season.’’

The club was yet to determine the cost of the cancellation but it would ‘‘definitely take a hit’’, Mr Weir said.

Organisers of the Wanaka A&P Show, set for March 12-13, will hold an emergency meeting today.

The board and management are expected to work through possible scenarios.

The annual show attracts thousands of people and was last year connected to the cluster of Covid-19 cases from the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown.

The Southland Cancer Society cancelled yesterday’s Relay for Life, which was to have been held at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

Organisers plan to run a virtual event in the coming weeks.

The week-long Otago Goldfields Cavalcade to Twizel was able to go ahead from Saturday.

The event features horse-riding, tramping, running, walking and mountain-biking trails, but each trail had fewer than 100 participants and it was not difficult to maintain a 1m space between entrants, Goldfields Heritage Trust spokesman Terry Davis said.

However, activities welcoming the cavalcade in Twizel had been cancelled.

The annual Motatapu race, scheduled for March 6, was also cancelled.

Organisers said they had investigated running the event with groups of 100, but found it was not feasible across the four different courses and their convergence to make sure those groups did not mix.

 — Additional reporting Simon Henderson

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