Coronavirus: Auckland's Polyfest cancelled

Auckland's Polyfest has been cancelled following meetings between the organisers and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS).

The Polyfest Trust met with ARPHS on Sunday and again on Monday morning to discuss this year's festival.

A statement from the Trust says it is the "wisest choice" to cancel the event.

"While we await the details of the Government's policy on mass gatherings, the following advice stands from a public health risk assessment perspective.

"We understand that 110,000 people usually attend from around NZ. This is a large gathering, with close personal contact."

Although it is a ticketed event, they see it as non-ticketed from a public health perspective since they would be unable to identify who was in a certain location at a particular time.

"This would mean if there was a confirmed person who had COVID who had attended Polyfest it would not be possible to contact trace people who were near the case at Polyfest."

The four-day event which showcases traditional music, dance, costume and cultural speech competitions was due to be held on the 18-21 March.

ARPHS says New Zealand is in a "stamp it out" phase of the virus where stronger measures are being taken to limit and avoid any potential community transmission.

"From an Auckland community perspective, ARPHS is concerned to avoid COVID-19 taking a 'hold' in the Auckland population and across the country, and we have a large and widely dispersed Pacific population in Auckland.

"The Government is also concerned with keeping COVID-19 out of the Pacific Islands, and we know that many Auckland families have frequent contact with visitors and family from the Pacific, or travel to and from the Pacific."

Schools are advised to contact NZQA if they have students who could have earned NCEA credits at Polyfest.

Polyfest's cancellation follows calls from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff after he conveyed a "strong view" to organisers that the event should be cancelled amid fears it could spread the COVID-19 coronavirus.