Running into Omicron

They are off, but not till November, from left, Dick Breukink (Cambridge), Gary Fieldes (Hamilton), Gideon, 6, Miriam, 13, Olive Adams (Tamahere) and Aaron Kearney (Cambridge) get a feel for the Hamilton Airport runway. Picture: Mary Anne Gill

Waipā residents wasted little time on Sunday responding to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement the country was moving into Covid red.

Queues at vaccination centres and supermarkets started within minutes of the 11am announcement, leaked on the Ministry of Health’s own website before Ardern even opened her mouth.

Event organisers were also calling urgent meetings so they could decide whether their gatherings could proceed.

For most, the answer was no. Cancelled or postponed as Omicron threatens to swamp the country are the North Island club and the national rowing champs at Karāpiro, the Ballance Farm Awards, Festival One Music Festival, St Andrew’s Craft and Collectable Fair in Cambridge and the Rotary Run the Runway events.

Others like the Ride NZ Cycling Festival next month will go ahead but with no spectators, event village or prizegiving.

A slew of other announcements is expected in the coming days including whether Waipā District Council meetings will go back into the Te Awamutu debating chambers rather than continue on-line.

Under the red setting, less than 100 people can attend indoor and outdoor events, with use of vaccine passports mandatory.

Rotary spokesperson Mike Cahill said the Run the Runway event at Hamilton Airport was to be held on 20 February with funds raised going to two beneficiaries: “Kids in Need Waikato”, a local charity who supply care packs for children in foster care, those being raised by grandparents or someone other than their biological parent and Hospice Nepal.

Participants run, walk or jog a flat 5km route on the airport runway.

The event, now to be held on November 20, is one of only two of its kind in New Zealand, and one of only four in the southern hemisphere; the others being held in Australia and South Africa.

Waipā deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, who also manages the Karāpiro Domain for the council, said fencing which the council erected for $20,000 for the regional waka ama event held a day before New Zealand went into red light, was taken down on Monday.

Part of the unspent $258,645 in the Waipā Covid community recovery fund went towards the temporary fencing.

She was not expecting any significant events at Karāpiro for several weeks now Omicron was in the community.

The SoundSplash three-day festival at Mystery Creek is likely to be the last major spectator event held in Waipā during the summer.

Festival goers packed up on Sunday while organisers, who had opted to move the event from Raglan to the bigger Mystery Creek venue, were pleased their “spatial requirements” meant nearly 8000 youth were able to attend.

Festival One, a multi-day Christian festival which was to be held in Whitehall Road near Karāpiro starting tomorrow (Friday) is off as is One Love Reggae and Roots music festival in Tauranga which usually draws patrons from Waipā.

Councillors were also set to decide this week whether to return to the debating chamber next week after two years.

Stolwyk said many councillors felt they were not engaging with each other in the same way and needed to re-establish that connection.

Schools are also going ahead with planning for a return to the classrooms. Cambridge High School has a teacher only day tomorrow and will finalise plans for a pōwhiri on February 2.

Students from years four and up must wear face coverings in classrooms and assemblies under the red traffic-light setting. Term one begins on January 31 in some schools and as late as February 8 in others.

Teachers must wear masks and it is understood the Ministry of Education favours them wearing N95 masks.

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