Auckland's much-loved Lantern Festival has been cancelled after the region moved to Alert Level 3 this morning.
It comes after two new Covid-19 cases were announced in a snap press conference last night.
Auckland moved to Alert Level 3 at 6am this morning. The rest of the country has shifted to Alert Level 2.
The festival was originally scheduled for February 25 to 28, then it was postponed to March 4 to 7. This year's festival would have marked the first time the event would have been held at a new Waterfront location.
Attendees were asked to pre-book free tickets with set entry times for contact tracing purposes ahead of the event.
"With Auckland under Alert Level 3 for the first three days of the Festival, the decision has been made to cancel the event," Auckland Unlimited said today in a press release.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the cancellation was disappointing but a necessary precaution given the number of Covid-19 cases in the Auckland community.
"The Auckland Lantern Festival is one of the biggest celebrations of our Chinese communities and it’s a real shame that it can’t go ahead this year," Goff said.
"However, given the uncertain situation with new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19 being detected in the community, a precautionary approach is warranted.
"I look forward to being able to celebrate the Lantern Festival when it returns next year."
Auckland Unlimited’s Head of Major Events, Richard Clarke, said, "Our reality is that we are operating in an ever-changing environment."
"We are naturally disappointed that the festival can’t proceed, following the initial postponement to give ourselves every chance to deliver the event.
"We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the Lantern Festival team, the performers and stallholders, sponsors, and every person involved in the planning of the event this year."
All pre-booked tickets will be automatically cancelled at no charge.