America’s Cup Village could be off limits to public under Covid-19 contingency plans

Organisers of the $152 million America’s Cup Village hold a “prevailing worry” that Covid-19 contingency plans will force them to close the waterfront fan hub to the public if a level 3 lockdown hit Auckland.

Spectators numbers would also be capped under a “dialled down” level 2 Cup Village.

A stakeholder in the America’s Cup Village has told the Herald on Sunday that safety contingency plans around a Covid-19 outbreak has been “top of mind” for Emirates Team NZ and Auckland Unlimited.

“They’ve made it clear all year they’ve been saying ‘If it’s a level 3 situation we basically can’t go ahead, if it’s level 2 we can still operate the village’,” the stakeholder said.

“And if it’s a level 2 or thereabouts they can operate it as a dialled down experience. I don’t know the exact numbers, but if it was an 100-person limit surely they’d split the red tape zone [Cup Village] into areas where they can keep 100 people contained.”

“It’s been something that’s been a prevailing worry all the way through. It’s something they’ve definitely planned for.”

The prospect of a Covid-19 alert level rise is very real given the three-month length of the America’s Cup.

Competition spans 46 days spread between December 15 and March 21, 2021.

The Ministry of Healthwould not clarify to the Herald on Sunday the restrictions on fans in the Village at different alert levels, but said they were working with Auckland Council on the rules.

“The Ministry of Health is aware of the potential risks associated with an event of the size and nature of the upcoming America’s Cup,” a ministry spokesperson said.

“America’s Cup Events Ltd is developing protocols that would enable the event to run safely at different alert levels.

“All individuals involved will be required to abide by these measures, which may include providing their contact details and recording when they are on-site via electronic check-in procedures for staff only, the NZ Covid Tracer app, and paper-based registers, which will support rapid contract tracing if required.”

The America’s Cup Village, between Auckland’s Viaduct Marina and the top of Wynyard Quarter, will be full of attractions for the public over summer.

The waterfront area will include food stalls, a maxi screen showing the race broadcast,pop-up bars including the Prada hospitality centre and the Mumm champagne bar, a 3D photo wall, pop-up garden, mono-hull yacht simulator, kids’ park, selfie writing screen, merchandise shop and a stage for various performances.

The ministry said “members of the public will be encouraged to sign in on entry to the America’s Cup Village” but it was not compulsory.

QR codes will be displayed at entrances of the village area, which begins at the edge of Hobson Wharf and continues along the waterfront through Silo Park to the end of Wynyard Pt.

Emirates Team New Zealand would not reveal their Covid-19 safety plans for patrons but said they werefinalising a comprehensive plan alongside government and council agencies, public health authorities and WorkSafe.

It will be in place before the village opens on December 15.

Slavka Yildiz is co-owner of Giraffe bar and restaurant in the Viaduct and says any cap on the number of spectators to the America’s Cup Village area would be “absolutely devastating”.

Yildiz said the impact of the community transmission scare involving an AUT student on November 12 had a huge impact on the following Friday night’s business.

“The problem was immediately after that we had a lot of cancellations,” Yildiz said.

“So it affected our business dramatically. Just that one day. It was very hard because it was a Friday obviously so we expected a lot of people.”

On November 22, the Herald reported that Auckland Council officials planned to close a series of downtown Auckland roads during the Christmas regatta from December 15-20, to accommodate a potential 200,000 spectators in the CBD.

Private vehicles will be banned from 1pm to 8pm on that hectic final weekend before Christmas along Quay St, some of Customs St West, Lower Albert St, Lower Hobson St, Market Place, Viaduct Harbour Ave, and most of Wynyard Quarter.

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