“If the petition I received on the steps of Parliament this morning from Darryl Clarke seeking to have exhibitions separated from mass gathering rules is acted on by this Government it will probably come too late for many in this important sector,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“It is painful to witness a star of the New Zealand exhibition sector like Auckland’s ASB showgrounds, in my Epsom electorate, close to liquidation, down to a handful of staff and at the mercy of its banks because business dried up during lockdowns and there’s nothing of significance in the pipeline.
“In normal times exhibitions are responsible for $5 billion GDP to the New Zealand economy and just 12 shows at ASB over a year accounted for 74,000 bed nights in Auckland.
“Under perverse rules in place under COVID alert level 2 a shopping mall just down the road from an exhibition venue can be busy with visitors but exhibitions aren’t allowed to run.
“We hope we don’t have further outbreaks of COVID-19, but it’s possible and there needs to be a level playing field for businesses in the event it happens.
“Shoppers don’t have to use the COVID Tracer app but exhibitions are ticketed events that use rigorous tracing, so they’re actually safer.
“The exhibition industry is made up of thousands of small to medium sized businesses, including event exhibitors, electricians, stand builders, sales reps, food vendors, and venue operators.
“The sector has been lobbying the Government for fair rules to keep them in business for months, after submitting a blanket exhibition safety plan to the Prime Minister last May.
“But they’re getting nowhere. If only they’d been the Wiggles.”