Government to cover 90 pct of 'unrecoverable costs' for fully vaxxed summer festivals amid COVID-19 pandemic

Organisers of big summer music festivals will have more certainty to proceed amid the outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand under a new Government scheme that promises to cover a huge chunk of "unrecoverable costs". 

The Government will shoulder the lion's share of the risk by offering to cover 90 percent of upfront costs for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5000 vaccinated people, should the event need to be cancelled or postponed due to public health measures. 

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced an Events Transition Support Scheme on Tuesday morning designed to give festival organisers greater confidence to plan and incur costs. 

"Organisers of large-scale summer festivals have to make decisions now about whether to proceed as their risk window is closing. There aren't insurance options in the market to cover this so the Government is stepping up as a type of underwriter," Nash said in a statement.  

"Events typically only generate revenue on the day or weekend they take place, yet incur significant costs in advance. A quick shift in public health measures could see an event cancelled with no opportunity to recoup costs or generate revenue."

Nash said that festival organisers are "great entrepreneurs" that give back to the community by delivering experiences that are "part of the cultural fabric of a Kiwi summer". 

"Big summer events are crucial for our economic and social wellbeing. We are in a unique period of transition from the Alert Level system to the new Protection Framework which relies on 90 percent vaccination rates. An immediate solution is needed this summer," he said. 

The new scheme will go live this week, and event organisers will be able to apply via the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website to check their eligibility. 

A full list of the eligibility criteria and terms and conditions are available on the MBIE website, but some of the key factors are that events must require the use of COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates, must take place between December 17, 2021 and April 3, 2022, and must have been already 'in the market' through promotion or ticket sales prior to the scheme's announcement.