Five weeks out from Alexandra Blossom Festival’s 65th celebrations, organisers are navigating the challenges of Covid-19 and the nationwide Level 4 lockdown, yet again.
Last year decisions on the running of the festival came down to the wire, as the South Island moved into Level 1 just four days before it started.
Blossom Festival event manager Martin McPherson said it was “less than ideal” to be in this position again, but he was optimistic.
Organisers were closely monitoring nationwide alert levels and would make critical decisions as the Government released more information, he said.
However, it was not just alert level changes that had left the committee reeling.
Earlier this week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced mandatory sign-ins were being introduced for busy places and large gatherings, to ramp up contact tracing.
While the move had received support, others questioned how it would work.
Mr McPherson said he was scrambling to work out how to enforce mandatory scanning before being inundated with thousands of visitorsestimated 15,000 people.
He had a sleepless night pondering how mandatory signing-in would work for the event.
While he supported the move to mandatory signing-in for most venues and events in certain locations, he did not think it was feasible for the Blossom Festival.
“Apart from just putting tracer apps [QR codes] on every lamppost down the parade route and possibly .. having volunteers walking around with tracer apps, confronting people and asking them to sign in, I don’t think there’s any simple solution to this and I can’t for the life of me make it work to a figure of 100%,” Mr McPherson said.
The events industry would go out of its way to find solutions, he said.
“I haven’t heard yet and it’s too early to say whether we can apply for an exemption, and that’s probably what I’ll be looking for. But I’m also looking at other colleagues in the industry to see how they’re going to handle this.
“As we are one of the first events out of the blocks post-Covid, we could be seen as a test case.”
In the meantime, it would be business as usual for the festival organisers, but spending would be limited to reduce the impact of the alert level changes, Mr McPherson said.