As the packed crowd in Hamilton enjoys the soft tunes of the main band SIX60, 25,000 phones buzz along with the sound of the new Covid-19 alert level.
The Kiwi band wrapped up their nationwide tour on Saturday night to the sold-out crowd at Claudelands Oval just as a new Level 3 closure was announced in Auckland for the following morning. This follows news of two further community cases – including one who has visited the gym and many other places instead of self-isolating.
Mayor Hamilton said it was a reality check how close New Zealand’s other cities could still reach further restrictions.
But Otago University Public Health Professor Michael Baker said the meeting, just an hour’s drive from the latest community case in Papatoetoe and attended by an unknown number of Auckland fans, indicated it was time for the government to impose “mandatory” contact tracing on all of that. “High risk situation”.
The first day of Auckland Level 3 on Sunday saw the cancellation of major events across the country for at least seven days of the latest restrictions and four hours of waiting for traffic to pass through border checkpoints to Auckland. Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said Hamilton was “quite lucky” compared to other cities and the warning at the major event was a “reality check”.
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“It’s disappointing for all of New Zealand because we have the best level of freedom of any country in the world, and it’s very easy to forget that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.”
“I think people need to remember that there are Aucklanders and other tourists to Hamilton every day, we didn’t realize it.”
Goods reporter Jo Lines-MacKenzie was among the SIX60 crowd and described the evening as “a little messy” when it came to people following the Covid-19 protocol.
“It was packed. The audience has a mix of ages and everyone is totally unbearable. I think everyone is excited to be out, “said Lines-MacKenzie.
Engrossed in the music, he said “nobody paid attention” to the warning text.
It’s also not mentioned between songs either.
With only thanks to the audience, SIX60 then left the stage at around 11pm.
He said concert goers who entered had to wait in long lines for hours. It was an exit from the same place with only one gate open to begin with.
“It’s a bit messy, they do have QR codes but they don’t get people to use them.
“My partner and I did it, but outside the lines of those around us, we were the only ones who did it.
Six60 promoter Heidi Ettema, however, believes they are following all Covid-19 practices right.
There is contact tracing at every entry point and in between including bars, food areas, toilets and staff restricted areas.
But the deputy leader of the Māori party, Rawiri Waititi, sowed further confusion on Sunday morning by telling people via social media to self-isolate if they attended a concert. This is despite the fact that Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that this only applies to those who have visited places of interest in South Auckland related to positive cases, not specific events.
Ettema said that they are not telling concertgoers to isolate themselves.
“We only took instructions from the Ministry of Health,” said Ettema.
“We continued to communicate with the Ministry of Health last night, this morning, and during the entire concert arrangement process.”
Ashley Bloomfield’s video explaining this practice plays after each act. There was also a large QR code on the main stage before the concert started and bottles of hand sanitizer distributed throughout the venue.
Ettema said it was against the law to impose scans before entry, but they could use ticket data to notify people if needed.
But public health expert Michael Baker said the concert was proof that “mandatory” scans should be considered in high-risk areas.
“At concerts and especially at mosh pits, people being very close to each other increases the chance of super-spread,” says Baker.
With only about 20 percent of infected cases responsible for the majority of transmission, he said this underscores the importance of preventing super-spreading events.
“Making sure everyone keeps their distance is difficult in this situation, but having mandatory contact tracing before anyone enters through the door is easy enough.
He said many event organizers were proactive and implemented this procedure themselves, but it was not a requirement and had not been enforced by the government.
“New Zealand has a relatively high voluntary use of Covid-19 tracking applications, but routine use is poor.
“There are people who will scan wherever they go, but a lot of people choose where they scan.
He wants to see tracking mandatory in high-risk venues including concerts, sports games, nightclubs, gyms and religious events.
“Thinking about the most recent community outbreak case where the person went to the gym, they should have had a scan before entering.
“It has been one year since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 arrived in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is renowned for one of the best responses to Covid-19. We have done very well in many ways, but there is always room for improvement. “
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