Waitangi Festival to go ahead

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The annual Waitangi Festival will go ahead as planned, with extra health measures in place to mitigate Covid-19 risks.

Waitangi National Trust confirmed the festival will proceed as scheduled, after it consulted with Northland District Health Board and received a briefing from Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

The trust said in a statement it was confident the festival can go ahead safely at alert level 1.

“While there is always risk involved with large public events the advice we have received is that under the current circumstances it can be managed through a mix of individual responsibility and enhanced health measures,” trust chair Pita Tipene said.

“We will be encouraging people to practice good hygiene, to use the Covid tracing app, and to stay home if they feel unwell or uncomfortable.”

Large QR code signs will be installed at all entry points and on all shuttle buses and public events will be held in open air, as recommended by health experts.

The Covid-19 Government Response Group’s ‘Sani Squad’ will be on site, and visitors will be encouraged to use the tracing app and practice hang hygiene.

The programme starts with a pōwhiri for the Governor-General  Dame Patsy Reddy and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on February 4, and the Royal NZ Navy Beat Retreat on February 5.

The dawn services on Waitangi Day will be held outside, and will be followed by a BBQ breakfast served by Ardern. This will be followed by a full programme of entertainment on Waitangi Day, February 6.

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“We will be monitoring closely any changes in advice from the Ministry of Health and have contingencies in place to adapt events should that be required,” Tipene said.

“But at the moment, everything will proceed as planned and we look forward to once again welcoming everyone to Waitangi to commemorate the first signing of Te Tiriti.”

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