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Further lockdown letdowns

A previous full house at Golden Shears in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE

Sick of ‘yo-yo-ing’

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For the first time, Masterton’s signature Golden Shears event has been cancelled.

Doug Laing, of Shearing Sports New Zealand, said Golden Shears had never had to cancel anything – “not even when it’s rained”.

“In the early days, it was almost a competition to come up with novel ways to dry the sheep if they had become too wet – like taking them down to Hood Aerodrome, turning on a couple of Beaver aircraft or in one case I think a helicopter hovering over ahead, and giving the sheep a blow-dry.”

But there were few options but to cancel the event after New Zealand returned to Alert Level 2 on Sunday morning.

The change came after just 10 days at Level 1, after a positive test result from a person in the South Auckland household of ‘Case M’.

Auckland returned to Alert Level 3 after just five days at Level 1.

Golden Shears organisers were disappointed at the shift in alert levels.

“Everyone wants to get to the Golden Shears,” Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said. However, Fagan recognised that there were few options but to cancel the competition.

More than 300 competitors had entered this year’s competition, which would have been the 61st Golden Shears. The Pahiatua Shears scheduled for Sunday was also cancelled.

Golden Shears president Sam Saunders said his committee had discussed the covid-19 situation for many months and the consensus was that the championships could not proceed under Level 2 restrictions.

Tickets and entry fees for the event would be refunded.

The second Martinborough Country Fair of the year would be postponed from March 6 until April 10. Stallholders would have the option to donate their fees to the fair’s charity programme or obtain a refund.

“Fairgoers can start preparing for backup retail therapy in April,” organiser Paul Mason said on the fair’s Facebook page.

Wairarapa accommodation providers were suffering from the event cancellations.

Mark Wellington, owner of The Highwayman Motel in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE

The Highwayman Motel owner Mark Wellington said that in the space of half an hour on Sunday, occupancy for the coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights had dropped from 100 per cent to about 20 per cent.

Wellington said that while he was frustrated by the “yo-yo-ing” of alert levels, he would be looking into the various government support packages he could access.

According to the government’s covid-19 website, all businesses in New Zealand that experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue over a seven-day period after the increased alert level could apply for the Covid-19 Resurgence Support Payment.

Eligible businesses would receive the lesser of $1500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent employee, or four times the actual revenue drop experienced by the business.

Wairarapa supermarkets were prepared for the alert level shift, with safety procedures in place by early Sunday morning.

New World Carterton had signs up informing customers how to shop safely while maintaining social distancing.

Hand sanitiser was available at the entry to the store and in front of the receptacles for bulk items.

“It’s the same procedure that we have done for every Level 2 instance that we have been put into,” duty manager Aaron Hodgson said.

New World Carterton had already placed limits on purchases of necessities by Sunday morning. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

“We’ve been given customer limits on entry to the store, which is fairly easy to track. Limits on basic necessities have gone into place, just because we don’t know how people are going to react with the slightly longer lockdown.”

Customers would only be allowed to purchase a maximum of two packets of toilet rolls.

All Pak’nSave and New World supermarkets would operate under the same government-mandated regulations, Hodgson said.

“Of course, if we go to Level 3, we’re prepared and ready as always.”

Most cafes and restaurants were already primed to go from the most recent shift to Alert Level 2.

Cafe Iberia duty manager Shayne Tyacke said that most customers were familiar with the different procedures by now.

At Alert Level 2, customers legally must be seated, separated by at least one metre from other groups, with a single server for each group.

Tyacke said that Cafe Iberia had set up all the government-mandated signs and was ensuring that tables were adequately spaced out.

“It’s just common sense.”

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