New Zealand should stop living in fear of COVID-19 - expert

A leading economist and COVID modeller says it's time for New Zealand to stop living in fear. 

COVID-19 alert level 2 means some crowd limitations remain in place for the weekend, meaning many events have not been revived out of safety concerns. 

But for relieved wedding planners, at least, it's all go. 

Michelle and Evan are better together -  but they'll be even better than that when surrounded by their loved ones. Their wedding has been given the fairy light to go ahead this Saturday, thanks to the drop to level 2. 

Michelle says she was waiting in front of the news - desperate for it to be good. 

They've had to lose a few table settings to keep it under 100 - a small sacrifice after Sunday's alert level 3 announcement.  

The shock change in levels triggered panicked calls to vendors and fears it was all off.

Venue owner Robin Roodt says these days the big day is planned with COVID in mind.

"Weddings, bookings are a lot smaller now, instead of having 100 to 120 people, they have 60, 70, 80 people, and people are saying, 'quick let's get it done'."

But modeller Rodney Jones says New Zealand is due for a change in mentality.

"We need to start letting go of that fear, in a way, the world's gonna change again, this has been a dramatic change, but it's going to change in a good way, fairly soon," he told Newshub. 

With global case numbers declining at the same time as vaccination roll-outs he believes by 2022, the chaos of COVID will likely be over.  

"I feel more optimistic than I have for more than 12 months, since January last year when Wuhan went into lockdown."

While there's been a collective sigh of relief from brides and grooms all across Auckland, not all big events have been so lucky. The 100 person cap on crowd sizes, proving impossible for some. 

Auckland's Splore festival has been postponed - The Pride Parade too. The Prada Cup Final will go ahead - but without crowds.

And Napier's Art Deco Festival remains cancelled despite there being no crowd limits under level 1. 

In Auckland though, Michelle and Evan are more than ready to say their vows. 

"Everything that has happened, has made this day even more special and more important to know you're getting married to the person you love, and the person who has been by your side through all the hard times."

For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health - in a pandemic and beyond.