50,000 Attend New Zealand Concert In Biggest Live Event Since COVID-19 Began

For millions of people throughout most of the world, COVID-19 remains just as much of a threat to public health as it was a year ago and so many of us still find ourselves waiting for enough of our fellow citizens to get vaccinated to make our normal lives safe again.

But while that situation may describe what most of the world has to deal with, there are some outliers like New Zealand and Taiwan that made impressive strides in stamping out the spread of the virus last year.

And in New Zealand's case, that successful pandemic strategy has apparently opened the door for a live event that the rest of us are still months away from.

If you were to find yourself in New Zealand right now, you'd likely notice some major differences from your surroundings right now.

As The New York Times reported, it's apparently rare to see people wearing masks and they aren't subject to the same social distancing requirements as we are.

That's because the nation has all but eliminated the coronavirus from its islands due to a combination of early border closures, early lockdowns, and a sophisticated national contact tracing program.

This gave New Zealand the opportunity top open up Eden Park in Auckland — its largest stadium — for a massive concert that sold out within weeks.

According to The New York Times, over 50,000 people would end up attending, making this the largest live in-person event since the pandemic began.

As headlining New Zealand band Six60 wrote in an Instagram caption, "Next time they tell you it’s impossible, show them this."

The event marks the first concert to headline Eden Park after the sports stadium's application to permit concerts in 2019.

As The New York Times reported, the event featured pyrotechnics, as well as a performance by a Māori kapa haka group.

With less than 3% of the population of New Zealand having received a COVID-19 vaccine, no proof of vaccination was required to attend this concert.

And according to Bloomberg, masks were also not required at the concert. Considering how many people turned out, it was likely obvious that social distancing wouldn't be possible.

But while New Zealand's coronavirus success has allowed for an experience that wouldn't be unusual before the pandemic, there's a trade-off.

According to The New York Times, the concert's lineup featured a lack of international artists since the borders remain closed to most non-citizens of New Zealand.

One exception to these circumstances concerned Australian artists who applied for special permission to enter the country and quarantined for two weeks after they arrived.

A Queen tribute band and The Wiggles were among those who had this permission granted.

However, it may soon get easier for Australian artists to play in New Zealand after a recent deal was struck between the two nations.

As Bloomberg reported, this deal has created a quarantine-free travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia intended to revitalize New Zealand's tourism industry.

But while the effects of this partnership remain to be seen, the conditions that the concert was able to happen in underscore how successful the nation's COVID-19 response has been.

As Auckland mayor Phil Goff said, "Our city has shown the world this week that in the midst of a global pandemic, we can live close to normality in Auckland."

h/t: The New York Times, Bloomberg

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