Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui events cancelled following traffic light announcement

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui events cancelled following traffic light announcement

Whanganui’s move onto red in the Covid-19 traffic light system on Thursday night left local event organisers with some tough decisions to make.

The biggest casualty was the Boxing Day Cemetery Circuit, which was officially cancelled early on Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, organisers of the 2021 Suzuki International Series said the decision came with “huge disappointment, utter frustration and angst”.

“This decision that we have had to make hurts to our hearts and souls, but we cannot go on with constantly moving goal posts that we have been doing everything we can to align with for the past few months.”

Organisers had tried everything they possibly could to run the events, the statement said.

“Sadly, we feel that our series will be the first of many who’s ability to run is taken out of our hands.

“There’s much we want to say but comments and opinions won’t change the fact others have decided the fate of the largest motorcycle racing series in New Zealand for 2021.”

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui events cancelled following traffic light announcement

Any food bought at the Whanganui River Markets will have to be eaten away from the site. Photo / Lewis Gardner

The Whanganui round of the PSP New Zealand Jetsprint Championship, set for the following day (December 27) at Shelter View Jet Sprint Park , was cancelled a fortnight ago.

Annette Main, organiser of the Saturday River Markets, said the river trader section, which was the larger part of the market, would be put on hold until the district moved onto the orange light.

“It’s pretty gutting for the hundred or more people who were planning the next three weeks selling things they’ve been making and producing and creating,” Main said.

“I just feel so sad that we can’t hold it.”

Main said the farmer’s market section would remain open under red, however.

“That is the local producers of food, vegetables, plants, flowers.

“We can’t have the food trucks, and If you’re going to buy brunch from Bestowed Kai or Pizza from Kirk (Nicholls) you’ll need to take it to the river bank, otherwise we’ll trigger the hospitality rules, which means serving at tables.”

Organisers were holding their breath for a drop down to orange, Main said.

“There will be the vaccine pass requirement, or else we are limited to 100 people, which doesn’t make it work for anyone.

“We had to set up the same kind of entrance when the farmers market was allowed to reopen under alert level 3, to make sure everybody signed in.

“We’ve had some practice, and the team is pretty used to dealing with any kind of situation.”

The 158th Turakina Highland Games, planned for January 29, has also been cancelled.

Turakina Caledonian Society chief, Durry Benton, said he had already made the call that the event couldn’t go ahead under red.

“Orange and green are possible, but obviously we’re not there,” Benton said.

“When are the Government having another look at things? A couple of weeks? I don’t think Rangitikei will make it to 90 per cent vaccination by then.”

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui events cancelled following traffic light announcement

The Turakina Highland Games was cancelled on Tuesday morning. Photo / Lewis Gardner

A huge amount of work went into organising the games, Benton said.

“We’ve got suppliers, judge’s flights, catering. A lot of logistics goes on in the background that we have to take into consideration.

“There’s a slim possibility we might be able to do something small and local a bit later on if we do go to orange, but whatever it is, it won’t be the full-blown games as per usual.”

Benton said the event would be returning in full in 2023.

“Once we get over the disappointment, and cancelling this, that, and the other thing, we’ll start to look at what we can do next year.”

Another major summer event, Whanganui Vintage Weekend, has already been cancelled due to Covid uncertainty.

It was set to run over Wellington Anniversary Weekend in January.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Whanganui events cancelled following traffic light announcement

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