New Zealand could have crowds at sporting events by the middle of June, as the country enters their next phase of lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
Crowds at sporting venues will be back when the country moves to alert level 1 – and possibly just in time for Super Rugby's restart with the Aotearoa competition starting on June 13.
Ahead of the New Zealand Cabinet's meeting on June 8 on a potential move to level 1 next week, Prime Minister said it was the Government's "strong desire" to move to level 1 as soon as it was safe to do so.
The country has recorded 12 successive days of no new coronavirus cases and currently only has a single active case.
A move to level 1 would mean restrictions around gatherings at stadiums and arenas – currently capped at 100 – will be completely lifted, meaning fans could be allowed to attend games just as sports leagues around the country return.
"At level 1 all current rules on businesses and services are essentially lifted," said the New Zealand PM.
New Zealand COVID Code
Ardern said the Government is currently working with stadiums and ticketing agencies on a "COVID code", which will allow for greater contract tracing at large events.
"All gatherings of any size can occur. However, we are working with ticketing agencies and large scale event organisers on a COVID code, whereby contact details are collected so that we can keep a track of people at large gatherings in the event that we need to follow them up for contact tracing.
"For those larger events it is a matter of preparedness for us. We may be confident that we're an environment where we do not have COVID in circulation.
"But if we have a situation where even one case emerges, and it's found that they had been in attendance at a large event, we always have to be prepared to be able to contact trace successfully.
"Which is why we want to work alongside those who put on events, large sporting events, music events, work with ticketing agencies, so that they do have information available for short periods of time to help us with contact tracing."