COVID-19: Festival organisers scrambling to replace Dimension's close contacts

New Year's Eve music festival organisers are scrambling to replace artists identified as close contacts to Dimension, the UK drum and bass act who brought the Omicron variant of COVID-19 to the New Zealand community.

A number of musicians have had to pull out of concerts to self-isolate with some taking to social media to voice their disappointment and anger.

For many Kiwis, Rhythm & Alps (R&A) saved their New Year's. With both Rhythm & Vines and Northern Bass postponed, the South Island festival stepped up.

It's now racing to make sure the show goes on.

"It's a Rubik's Cube that we've been working through, and it's constantly changing," R&A Festival Director Alex Turnbull told Newshub.

Dimension was meant to headline R&A as 2021 ended and 2022 begins. Instead, a last-minute call to Fat Freddy's Drop means they'll fill his main stage slot. 

Attendees Newshub spoke to didn't mind that one bit.

But it's not just Dimension who's a no-show. Other performers are close contacts - including fellow UK DJ Friction, who was due to take to the stage last night.

He says he returned a negative test, but has to isolate for a period of time, adding he's absolutely heartbroken.

Kiwi acts have been caught up in it too - drum and bass duo Lee Mvtthews have already had to pull out of two festivals. 

The close contacts are all isolating for seven days meaning they'll miss slots at festivals like Hidden Valley and Gold Rush.  

DJ Sin Howard is one of them. She says she's angry and heartbroken, and acknowledged the artists who have been stripped of their livelihoods.

"It's unfortunate for them, they'll be really disappointed. [But] it's no-one's fault, it's not their fault," said Turnbull.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said six people flew via charter plane to Christchurch where they performed at the Hidden Lakes festival last night.

None of those acts have publicly revealed they're now self-isolating. 

Hipkins is confident the risk to punters is low.

"They were tested before they left Auckland, because of the way the event promoters are managing health and safety. They're tested before they perform, and in all cases so far they've come back with negative test results," he said.

If all goes well, the close contacts could be out of isolation and back onstage next week - but there's no word yet on compensation for the artists.

"We'll have discussions with them at some point. It's not today, it's not tomorrow, it'll be at some point and we'll work out a solution for everyone," said Turnbull.

Omicron giving New Zealand's summer festivals a headache, before the hangovers have even kicked in.