Covid 19: Cancellation of Northland events and campground stays begins

Some holidaymakers planning to spend the next two long weekends in Northland are starting to cancel their campground bookings, while event organisers are preparing for last-minute cancellations if more Covid cases are detected.

News of a positive community Covid-19 case in Northland is already having an effect on events and visitor bookings.

The Carnival on the Bridge in Whangārei, scheduled for February 27, has been put on hold and organisers said a date would be announced when the time was right.

“For now, let’s all work together with the quintessential Northland easy-going, positive, supportive community spirit that we all know and love and be good to each other.”

Campground operators across Northland are fielding calls, mostly from Aucklanders, to cancel their bookings after a positive Covid case was confirmed on Sunday.

However, a Northland tourism leader is optimistic there would be no more community transmissions and that visitors would come up north for the long weekends.

Colleen Young, manager of Tutukaka Holiday Park, said everyone has had a “big scare”, with between 20 and 30 cancellations as of yesterday for this upcoming Northland/Auckland Anniversary long weekend.

“People are even cancelling bookings for the Waitangi Day long weekend, although we aren’t full at this time of the year. A lot of people are cancelling because they work with the elderly, while others are immunity-compromised.”

Owner/operator of Baylys Beach Holiday Park, Trish Rolfe, said there have been a few cancellations, while some people have rung to say they were discussing with family whether or not to travel to Northland.

“We want people to be honest and vigilant and I’ve always asked people to scan their QR code. Some people won’t do it until you ask them to,” she said.

Camp Waipū Cove has also had a number of cancellations but they’ve been rebooked.

Campground owner Anton Trist said the place was otherwise fully booked for both long weekends and he was still fielding inquiries from those wishing to rent a spot.

There are 1500 rental spots at the campground.

“I think if there’s a change in alert level or there are [more] community transmissions, then we’ll experience a large number of cancellations and no rebookings.

“We have a large number of school camps booked after the long weekends so I am expecting the shoulder season to be pretty busy for us because people have nowhere else to go to,” Trist said.

A spokeswoman at Whale Bay campsite said the venue was packed with about 200 visitors and she was unaware of any cancellations due to Covid.

The Bay of Islands Sailing week, which started last weekend, will continue this week but the organising committee are realistic about a last-minute cancellation should the alert level rise.

“We decided all we could do was keep going as if the regatta was going ahead, but be prepared to pack it all in if that’s what the Government advised,” event chairwoman Nina Kiff said.

With hundreds of sailors crewing 116 boats entered in the regatta, and more than 60 volunteers lending their time and energy to help make the event happen, she said there was relief all round that the regatta could still go ahead in line with Government guidelines.

Kiff said her committee was taking all precautions in line with Government advice and reminding competitors to stay home if unwell, use the NZ Covid tracer app to scan the QR codes around the regatta area and marina, and to wash their hands frequently.

Racing finishes on Friday.

Tourism leader Jeroen Jongejans said apart from Covid, inclement weather forecast for Northland this long weekend has also deterred people from travelling.

“People are on the edge after lockdown and what’s happening overseas with Covid, which is a good thing, they are being smart in not wanting to take any risks.

“But as soon as people get more information on Covid, they find it more relaxed to come up and enjoy their time here,” Jongejans said.

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