IRONMAN Group Oceania seeks clarity for events
The IRONMAN Group Oceania Managing Director Dave Beeche is advocating for industry and the Government to work together on creating a framework and pathway that will allow sporting and other events to continue to operate under higher COVID alert levels.
Beeche spoke with Lisa Owen on Radio New Zealand show Checkpoint earlier this week with a focus on the upcoming ASB Auckland Marathon (November 1) and spoke about the challenges the industry faces with restrictions placed on large social gatherings under the Alert Level system.
“It is a move in the right direction and a good indication with the rest of the country moving to Level One and Auckland taking a little step forward, but it still makes planning incredibly difficult,” said Beeche. “We have to commit to several hundred thousand dollars of expenditure in the next two weeks before the next (Alert Level) deadline on the 5th of October, so we are in a holding pattern hoping that things continue to move in the right direction.
“For me, this situation points to the need for an overall framework. Where we have been for the past six months has been entirely appropriate, blanket restrictions, simplicity, and clear rules. But as we move to a phase where we learn to live with COVID, I think we need a framework that allows gatherings to take place under a prescribed COVID management framework.
“IRONMAN delivered an event in Queensland two weeks ago under an approved COVID Management Plan that put in place physical distancing, hygiene, contact tracing and screening on arriving at check in. They did something similar in the UK where gatherings are restricted to six people, but three and a half thousand people were able to safely take part in a race with all those COVID management guidelines in place.
“I think as we move through the process of getting used to this virus, we need to get a little more targeted and sophisticated in weighing up the risks associated with each type of event. We all know how important events are to society with physical health, mental health, economic benefits, and the rest of it.
“We now need to put in place a system for events that can mitigate the risk so they can proceed under some of these higher alert levels. Level One is fine, but when we are bouncing around the higher levels means the uncertainty makes the planning and delivering these events very difficult,” he said.
For the full interview with Lisa Owen on Radio New Zealand, CLICK HERE
Beeche and The IRONMAN Group Oceania has been an advocate for the wider event industry over recent months, and is actively involved in advocating for the Government and the industry to develop a more agile and flexible framework to allow the industry to put on events where the risks can be mitigated to a level that Health authorities are comfortable.
“We are working with the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA) to assist the industry in working with Government to put in place a framework that recognises the different levels of risks associated with different types of gatherings, including controlled vs uncontrolled, ticketed vs unticketed, seated vs unseated, indoor vs outdoor, small vs large, etc. and allows gatherings of scale to proceed where risks can be effectively mitigated under an approved COVID Management Plan.
“I know that other professional event organisers along with The IRONMAN Group are prepared to put in place mitigation measures that we believe lower the virus transmission risks to levels that are consistent with, or lower than, the day to day functioning of communities under various Alert Levels. These include things like hygiene, education, contact tracing and physical distancing.”
Beeche says that the event industry is of huge benefit to the wider community and New Zealand economy and desperately needs a clear pathway to negotiate the coming weeks and months.
“The physical, mental, social, community, economic and other benefits that events deliver to New Zealand are well documented and critical to our recovery process,” he said What we and others in the industry are asking for is a framework that events can work under, that enable event operators to continue to plan and deliver events under some of the higher COVID alert levels. This is particularly important if New Zealand is to continue to bounce around between various COVID Alert Levels as outbreaks occur, as they inevitably will.”
The IRONMAN Group Oceania’s next New Zealand event is the ASB Auckland Marathon scheduled for Sunday 1 November, which already has over 10,000 entries. To illustrate some of the challenges the sector is facing under the current approach, Auckland has just moved to Alert Level 2 under which the marathon could not proceed, with the next announcement on Alert Levels due to be made on October 5, less than four weeks out from race day.
Costs incurred to date are a significant six figure sum, and in order to continue planning and preparing for the event over the next two weeks IRONMAN must decide whether to commit to a further six figure sum expenditure with no certainty as to whether the event can proceed.
Photo credit Auckland Marathon