MBIE Update on Events at Alert Level 2

Below is a message received today with further clarity on Events at Alert Level 2 from the New Zealand Major Events department of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. Please be patient as it will take some time for this information to be updated to the Government COVID-19 website and other official websites.


Kia ora koutou,


You will all be aware that, as of 11.59 pm yesterday, we entered a progressive move to Alert Level Two.  


Earlier this week the Prime Minister provided high-level information about what will and will not be possible at Alert Level Two. Gatherings were one of the areas that required further clarification. Last night, the Minister for Health signed the final Order for Alert Level Two. This order confirms the details of the restrictions.


Private parties are considered gatherings, and these have a cap of ten people. There is no record keeping required for these parties except for where attendees are not friends or whanau. There is also no seating requirement.  


Ticketed large events, including conferences, theatres and stadiums are subject to a 100 person limit. There is a one-metre distancing requirement, and contact tracing is essential.  


Large ticketed events must:

  • be seated 
  • able to keep attendance records effectively (i.e. allowing for contact tracing)
  • having physical distancing in place
  • have good hygiene procedures
  • and that any food and drink must meet the hospitality provisions.


Therefore, when planning events, the questions to ask are:

  • Can your event support seated guests?
  • Can your event support physical distancing?
  • Can your event allow for appropriate handwashing facilities, and keep communal areas such as bathrooms clean?
  • Can you collect adequate information for contact tracing? Contacting tracing means collecting and maintaining accurate records which include a person’s full name, their address, an effective means of communicating with them (for example, a current phone number or email address) and the time at which the person arrived and left the event. The health position statement on record-keeping and the privacy commission guidelines both suggest this information should be held for two months.  


We all want to ensure there is no ‘second wave’ in New Zealand, so it’s essential to become familiar with all these measures.


While I am sure that there is some relief that the cap for organised ticketed events is 100, and not 10, there has been much discussion about the need to set caps on attendees in the first place. Event organisers may rightly consider that they can mitigate risks even with a higher number of attendees.  


Caps are set based on health expertise because larger events exponentially increase the potential spread of the disease. It is not because of a belief that the event sector is unable to deliver larger events safely. Caps also are set based on the ability of public health to be managed in the case of an outbreak, including contact tracing, isolation and critical care facilities. An increase in a cap from 100 attendees to 200 attendees, for example, is exponential in risk – the contract tracing requirements alone following on from an event becomes much greater, so caps are set at a level where safety can be managed from a public health perspective. 


This is not a reflection on the ability of event organisers to mitigate risk or fail to do so. 

It is about allowing New Zealand to keep stamping out COVID-19. Keeping numbers low, for now, will help New Zealand be able to respond swiftly and effectively and possibly prevent an increase in Alert Levels by doing so. 


The current caps across all aspects of New Zealand business and social gatherings are for the first stage of Alert Level Two and will be revisited in two weeks, as per the Prime Minister’s announcement. From here, the cap may increase in phases, but it’s not possible to offer any certainty around if or when these phases might begin. We realise this makes planning extremely difficult. But the Alert Levels and the restrictions are set based on our success, or otherwise, in controlling COVID-19. There is no timeframe for when Alert Level 1, for example, will come into place. We will continue to support the events sector in any ongoing discussions about this.


As noted, the details of what was permissible within Alert Level Two were only confirmed last night. The information I have included in this update is based on the best information that we have to hand. For further clarification, and for any changes to come over the next weeks, please continue to refer to those three websites I mentioned in a previous update: covid19.govt.nz, business.govt.nz and the Ministry of Health website.  


Stay well and please, continue to keep in touch with us.   


Nga mihi


Susan Sawbridge
Manager New Zealand Major Events

New Zealand Major Events

Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment