A month from when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “If you want a summer, get vaccinated,” it seems Aucklanders and those around the country may not be able to enjoy New Year parties after all, as event companies call this week’s traffic light announcement lacking in clarity and ambiguous.

New Year parties may be in jeopardy as event organisers are still unsure of what to expect after December 15 and whether the limit on the number of people will extend in time for 31 December.

Sanchit Gupta, Founder of Page 3, organiser of Bollywood themed parties across Auckland is disappointed with the government’s announcement as it provides no new update or timeline for event organiser like him. He said, “Every single announcement is extremely complicated. It does not have any new information in terms of proper timelines or pathways. Even with the traffic light announcement, what about everything else? What about new year’s? What about the borders? Levels? How long do they expect the traffic lights to stay in place? There’s no clarity.”

He says it may already be too late for them to plan a New Year’s party this year. “We need to organise staff, security, bartenders and everything that is required to manage 1000-1200 people. If the government tells us in the second or third week of December, that we are allowed to host a new year event, it’s impossible for us to sell tickets, arrange everything and get organised to host an event. So, for us, this uncertainty isn’t helping at all,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Bobby Sohal, who along with his partners Karanpreet Lamba and Harry Singh runs Vogue Entertainment.

“It's very hard to get any kind of clarity,” Bobby says. “As an event-based business, we look at not only the clientele, but the volume of clientele and the minimum requirements needed to host an event, at the establishments that we use. Although we have booked our venue and started our marketing for a New Year event, we cannot confirm anything yet, because at this stage as we don't know if we can go ahead with it.”

Meanwhile, across New Zealand, many large and small-scale events have faced cancellations, due to uncertainty or Covid restrictions. Many of Canterbury’s iconic summer events have been cut short and restaurants and event venues across the country are suffering due to lack of business.

Over the past 100 days of lockdown, Page 3 and Vogue Entertainment have collectively cancelled over six events, with Page 3 putting its expansion plans into Hamilton and Wellington on hold due to the uncertainty faced by the sector.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash, this month, announced an Events Transition Support Scheme for live, in-person paid events with more than 5000 attendees that are held between 17 December until 3 April 2022, and that may face cancellations.

But what about small-scale event companies like Vogue Entertainment, asks Bobby who are left in a lurch without any insurance or financial backing.

“The government has covered events over the substantial number of 5000. The likes of Rhythm & Vines, their events are insured by the government. But smaller promoters like us, like the other event organisers that are pulling in under a 1000 or 2000 people, for them there is no transparency yet.”

He says smaller promoters should also have some insurance base because most of them are flooding in money from their own pockets or in some cases not paying themselves, rather re-investing their money back in the business.

Sanchit reasons that no business can operate under ambiguity for long periods of time. He said, “Businesses need forecasting, right? More than anyone, the government should understand this better. When the government comes into power, they are focused on how they want to play out for the next five years. It’s not like the government will come in and say this is what we're going to do for the next month, and then we'll figure out what we need to do,” he adds.

“We are an educated country, we understand that things might change, but at least having some tentative timeline would be an extremely helpful resource because it will help businesses like us plan and forecast our finances,” he concludes.

To be able to organise and market events for New Year, the companies need clarity in the next two weeks.