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COVID-19 - Advice for public events and mass gatherings

COVID-19 - Advice for public events and mass gatherings

Posted March 16, 2020

Media Release: Ministry of Health

On 16 March 2020, the Government advised public events or mass gatherings where 500 or more people are together in one place, at one time should be cancelled. Examples include concerts, festivals and sports matches.

New Zealand’s priority is slowing the spread of COVID-19. Mass gatherings such as concerts, sporting events and the like pose a high risk for transmission of infectious diseases.

Helping people avoid close contact with others as much as possible, like you would with the seasonal flu, is an effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures are intended to help protect you, your family and all of New Zealand from COVID-19.

Criteria for cancelling events

To slow the spread of COVID-19, gatherings of 500 people or more in close proximity will be cancelled. This includes festivals, fairs, sporting, religious and cultural events. This will be regularly reviewed.

The intent of the measures is to avoid non-essential gatherings which may facilitate the spread of COVID-19.

You should still attend school or work. The Ministry of Education will work with schools and universities to try to mitigate large congregations of people.


In the first instance, please contact the event organiser. These measures were announced on the afternoon of Monday 16 March and it’s likely event organisers will need some time to determine their process and obligations for any refunds, payment to suppliers etc.

Please be patient as they work through the process to meet any obligations they may have.

Attending public events

The following people should not attend events of any size:

anyone who is unwell
anyone arriving in New Zealand who has returned from any country except those listed in Category 2 (excluding airport transit), or been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days is being asked to self-isolate.
Please also register your details with Healthline 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 if using an international SIM) if you have not already.

How to minimise the risk of getting sick at an event of any size

The most important thing to do is practice good hygiene. This means:
covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or coughing/sneezing into your elbow
disposing of used tissues appropriately in a bin
washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and drying them thoroughly, or using hand sanitiser:
before eating or handling food
after using the toilet
after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
after touching public surfaces
trying to keep 2 metres away from people who are unwell
limiting alcohol and drug use (as this may affect your ability to adequately follow the advice above).

The measures above are especially important for people who have existing health conditions, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems.