Classic car event cancelled

Allan Berland was meant to take his 1955 Ford Customline to the Great USA Day this weekend, but...
Allan Berland was meant to take his 1955 Ford Customline to the Great USA Day this weekend, but it was cancelled.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
An increase in Covid-19 alert levels has affected the city. Events have been cancelled, leaving organisers and accommodation providers out of pocket. Jessica Wilson and Elspeth McLean report.

Fleets of classic cars were set to descend on Dunedin.

However, a change in alert levels has stalled organiser’s plans.

Hundreds of car enthusiasts were expected to take part in the Great USA Day and national Corvette events this weekend.

About 400 American cars were going to be on display at Hancock Park on Saturday, following a cruise tomorrow night.

The Great USA Day committee met on Monday night to discuss the possibility of rescheduling the event, but decided against it.

‘‘The way things are going we could reschedule in another three or four weeks and then get all ready and we could be back in lockdown,’’ committee member John Lister said.

Times were uneasy and uncertain so it was safer to cancel the event, Mr Lister said.

It was the first time in 33 years it could not be held.

Organisers were out of pocket ‘‘but that’s a risk you take when you do run an event,’’ he said.

Proceeds were meant to go to Otago Hospice and Casting for Recovery.

To ensure the charities did not miss out, people could buy an event T-shirt for $35 and $5 would be given to the organisations.

Drivers from the Corvette nationals were going to take part in the Great USA Day display on Saturday.

All the Corvette events were cancelled after the organising committee held an emergency meeting on Sunday.

A member of the public scans a QR code using the NZ Covid Tracer app.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
A member of the public scans a QR code using the NZ Covid Tracer app.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
It was disappointing, especially given the hundreds of volunteer hours put in and the money spent on events and venues, Dunedin Corvette Club organising committee member Brett Ashton said.

‘‘We’ll recover what we can but essentially everyone has a bit of a loss out of it,’’ Mr Ashton said.

‘‘It’s not ideal but it’s the best we can do, unfortunately.’’

The weekend’s events would have included a meet and greet tomorrow night, dinner on Saturday night, and a cruise on Sunday.

Next year’s national event would be held in New Plymouth, but the Dunedin club hoped to secure it again in 2023.

Allan Berland was set to take his 1955 Ford Customline to Great USA Day.

While he was unhappy about the shift in alert levels he admitted ‘‘we have to do what we have to do’’.

Great USA Day was something people looked forward to each year, he said.

Cancelled events also meant cancelled accommodation bookings.

Otago Motel Association president and Dunedin Palms Motel owner Alex Greenan said the tighter Alert Level 2 restrictions were ‘‘devastating’’ on accommodation providers.

A rise in alert levels impacted financially and on the moral of accommodation providers.

‘‘From week-to-week you don’t know what is going to happen — it’s nerve-racking.’’

At Alert Level 1, businesses were just surviving but when a higher alert level was announced, bookings were cancelled, pushing some businesses closer to closing.

Many businesses were ‘‘on edge’’ of closing but he understood why the Government had placed Dunedin in Alert Level 2.

‘‘It’s tough — but it’s tough on everybody — it’s an emotional rollercoaster.’’

He called on landlords to reduce rents to help accommodation providers navigate the tough time.

‘‘Something would be better than nothing — we’re all in this together, all five million of us, which includes them.’’

When alert levels change, Age Concern Otago notices a marked reduction in participation in its programmes, executive officer Debbie George said.

At Level 2 the organisation could ‘‘provide pretty much everything we do, with precautions’’ but some older people were reluctant to go out.

An exercise class, for instance, attracted about 10 to 15 people when the alert level was raised to 2, compared with the usual turnout of 40.

It was indicative of the prevailing fear and anxiety some people had around Covid-19, issues the organisation’s community social worker had been ‘‘flat out’’ dealing with since the lockdown last year.

Mrs George wanted to assure those who usually took part in programmes that it was still safe to do so and that all proper precautions around physical distancing would be applied.

Of course, if people were feeling unwell they should not attend.

It was important people maintained social contact with others, either in person or by phone or computer.

There was plenty of research about the impact of loneliness and isolation on health and, ‘‘in terms of mortality risk, it was up there with smoking’’, she said.

Although there were some restrictions on visitors to a variety of Dunedin City Council facilities and attractions, including some changes to opening hours, a council spokesman said there had been no significant issues to report.

At Moana Pool numbers using swimming lanes were reduced and the leisure pool, spa, diving boards and showers were closed.

Staff were on hand at the library and other facilities such as the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Lan Yuan-Dunedin Chinese Garden and Olveston, to ensure protocols were followed.

To order a Great USA Day T-shirt email statesidestreetersinc@hotmail.com or visit the Facebook page.

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