Covid-19: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff defends the continuation of the city’s main events on Sunday

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Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said there was no health advice to close major events in Auckland on Sunday as details of new cases emerged from the Covid-19 community that led to the reintroduction of level 3 alert.

Goff attended the Big Gay Out Festival after the Director General of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield called him late that morning to alert him that new cases were being investigated in the community.

The festival drew thousands, with another large crowd at the Prada Cup final on the Auckland waterfront, where the races ended around 6pm.

“Ashley Bloomfield said at the time that the events should take place,” Goff said at a media conference Monday morning.

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“The organizer of Big Gay Out was informed of the situation separately by health officials, but they (the organizer) were not informed as I was not advised to close the event,” Goff said.

Goff also said he received a call from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday afternoon – and was then informed of the possibility of raising the alert, with confirmation coming around 5:30 p.m.

“That was the advice the experts and the health authorities gave, and I never try to reconsider the experts in the field,” he said.

Stuff asked Goff how he behaved at the festival, knowing there were potential new cases.

Up to 10,000 visitors visit Auckland's Big Gay Out - that amount in 2020

Abigail Dougherty / Stuff

Up to 10,000 visitors visit Auckland’s Big Gay Out – that amount in 2020

“I do what I normally do and generally adhere to the normal precautions. I didn’t know the full extent yet as the main announcement was at 1pm,” he said.

The mayor said he was warned that afternoon that no trace of Covid-19 was found when samples were taken from sewage in the southern Auckland network on February 10.

“This is good news, but not final news,” Goff said, pointing out that the tests are not an absolute indicator of the presence of the virus in a community.

The other big event in town, the Prada Cup final for America’s Cup challengers, was postponed to the next scheduled race day on Wednesday.

Large crowds gather by the water for America's Cup races (December 2020)

Todd Niall / Stuff

Large crowds gather by the water for America’s Cup races (December 2020)

Goff said how the event would go would be made organizers on the advice of health officials.

“If you are in port (racing) and sitting in separate boats, the risk is probably very small, but if we are still in level three there is no question that there are crowds of people on the water or on the banks. Beware.”

“It would be up to the health authorities to make the call if the race itself poses a risk to the crew – they are probably part of a bubble anyway,” Goff said.

America’s Cup Event Limited is working with teams today on how the new restrictions apply.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff speaks to the media about the Covid-19 level 3 alert.

Ricky Wilson / things

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff speaks to the media about the Covid-19 level 3 alert.

The mayor confirmed that all of the usual level 3 restrictions and closings would be in place in council facilities such as libraries, service centers and resorts.

Parks would remain open, but playground equipment would be banned.

Goff said patronage on public transport will be monitored to see if additional capacity is needed to allow safe distancing of passengers on board.