COVID-19: Social gatherings

Information for organisers of social gatherings, and all New Zealanders attending, on how to keep safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 when people get together.

There are also guidelines for businesses and services with information and requirements for safely operating a business or service at Alert Level 2, including for education, transport and travel, and other services.

On this page:

New Alert Level 2 guidance

At 11:59am 29 May 2020 changes were made to relax restrictions in Alert Level 2. 

All events and gatherings are now allowed up to 100 people with public health controls in place. There is different guidance for social gatherings, and for events held by businesses and services.

We must continue to play it safe. While the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand is low, we have already seen that COVID-19 is easily spread when people get together.

What is a social gathering?

Social gatherings are all situations where people are intermingling, other than at a business or a service. They include not-for-profit sporting, recreational, social or cultural activities. Examples are weddings, funerals, tangihanga, religious services or gatherings, private parties, informal get-togethers, and unlicensed community clubs or RSAs. 

Social gatherings organised by a private person and held in a hired facility or venue should follow guidance on this page for social gatherings. However, the facility or venue may place some additional requirements around your gathering, and it is best to discuss this with them.

If your event is organised by a business or service (includes professional sports and conferences) or is a club using an alcohol license, you should follow the guidelines for businesses and services.

There is specific information for funerals and tangihanga.

Organising a gathering

Organisers need to take steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection to attendees and the community. Public health controls and limits on the numbers of people must be in place. If they can’t be, the event or gathering should not be held.

It is a requirement for organisers to follow public health controls, which include:

  • limiting the number of people attending
  • keeping a record of attendees (although not required if all people know each other, it is still advised, even in a private home setting). 

It is recommended you provide the ability for attendees to practise good hygiene and encourage people who don’t know each other to practise physical distancing of 1 metre. You could help people keep their distance by providing seating.

Read more about physical distancing

Social gathering people limit

Your gathering must be limited to 100 people. 

You can play it safe by making sure that people can still spread out and keep it under 2 hours in length.

Multiple gatherings in one venue

You can hold more than one gathering in one venue, provided you can keep the groups completely separate. Indoor space can be divided with appropriate partitions or rooms. Outdoor areas can be separated by ensuring that different groups remain at least 2 metres apart. 

Each defined space must be limited to 100 people. There must be systems in place to prevent intermingling of each group of 100 people in common spaces such as entrances, exits and toilets. 

Record attendees

You must keep a record of all attendees at your social gathering, unless everyone attending knows everyone else there (however, even in those cases it is encouraged). 

An accurate record of attendees includes:

  • the person’s name
  • their active phone number or email address (an effective way to contact them)
  • the time they arrived and left the event.

If you have multiple separate spaces where separate gatherings are held, you must keep a record for each area. You should hold those records for two months.

Good hygiene

Attendees should have access to appropriate hand washing facilities with soap and water, and the ability to dry their hands thoroughly. Provide an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Keep communal areas such as bathrooms and high-touch surfaces like door handles and payment machines clean. Use an appropriate cleaning solution.

Read more about general cleaning during the COVID-19 response

Attending a gathering

Avoid attending a gathering of any size if you are:

Health care workers should be extra vigilant with hygiene practices at social gatherings to avoid infection.

Follow public health measures

Use good hygiene such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, and cough and sneeze into your elbow. Use hand sanitiser if provided.

You should also continue to follow physical distancing rules of 1 metre around people you don’t know where possible. Use your judgement. This is your best defence against COVID-19.

Read more about protecting yourself with good hygiene and physical distancing

People at higher risk

The overall risk to the public has reduced as there is no evidence of widespread community transmission. However, people at higher risk are encouraged to take extra precautions when leaving home to protect your own health. You should still avoid large gatherings as much as possible.

Read information for people at high risk of COVID-19 infection.

Recreational sport and cultural activities

Participating in sport and cultural recreation activities is allowed. People limits still apply and a record of attendance must be kept. Physical distancing should be followed as much as possible.

Any sport or recreational activity where a 2 metre distance from others can be maintained significantly reduces the risk of virus transmission. No record of attendance is required in these situations.

Professional sport and performances are considered a business so business and service rules for operating safely apply.

More information is available from the Sport New Zealand or Unite Against COVID-19 websites.

What is enforceable and who is responsible?

Everyone in New Zealand has a responsibility to play it safe. You should always stay home if you’re unwell, follow physical distancing, and practise basic hygiene. You also have a responsibility not to attend any gathering or event that is larger than 100 people. 

Limiting numbers of people at social gatherings and recording attendees (except where all people know each other) are requirements and are enforceable. These are the responsibility of the organiser.

Read more about protecting yourself and others.

Reporting breaches

You can report a COVID-19 breach if you have concerns about a gathering of people or event that breaches the enforceable requirements.

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