COVID-19 red light restrictions see companies cancel Christmas parties in their droves

The tradition of the boozy office Christmas party looks a little different this year, particularly if you're living in a traffic red light region. 

Many larger companies are choosing not to have a gathering at all - and part of the reason seems to be the fact some office staff can't produce a vaccine pass to get into bars and restaurants.

Ah, the office Christmas party: the drinks, the secret crushes revealed, the time of year to enjoy your colleagues rather than just bug them to reply to your email. 

But it seems many won't get the chance this year.  

Manager of popular rooftop bar Sweatshop says cancellations for office Christmas parties now far outstrip the number of bookings. 

"I think we've dropped probably 95 percent of the Christmas bookings. A lot held on, to try and I guess hope that we would be at an orange level and back to some normality - but unfortunately the majority of those are gone now," said Mark Jackson, Sweatshop director.

Some companies are reluctant to enforce the seated and separated rule with 100 boozed up staff - so at red light, many are splitting teams into small groups. 

Hospitality New Zealand says the requirement for venues to have vaccine passports is another factor. 

"I have had a repeated message from several members, is that group bookings are being cancelled because not everyone in the group has been vaccinated," said Hospitality NZ CEO Julie White.

Newshub spoke to one bar manager in Auckland's Viaduct who had to cancel a booking of 89 people because two of the office workers were not vaccinated.

When he asked what the company would do instead, the reply was 'probably nothing'.  

Even in outdoor adventure settings, Christmas party bookings are well down for those in red. 

"Normally we would average about 100-130 people in the Auckland park a day, in the summer, now we are down to about 40," said Adrenaline Forest's Kimberley Waldek.

There is a slice of hope for businesses though. Many say companies are starting to re-book their functions for January and February. 

So while those in red might have to skip the Christmas party, a reunion celebration for office workers could be on the cards instead.