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Public health risks too great to open Splash Planet this summer

Splash Planet 1

After careful consideration, Hastings district councillors today decided the risks to public health were too great to open Splash Planet for this summer season.

Over the past week, councillors have been weighing up the risks of opening, including seeking public health advice from senior DHB officials.

Although the facility could open under Alert Level 2 guidelines with numbers restricted to 1000 people at any one time so two-metre physical distancing requirements could be met, there were big challenges with managing this, coupled with uncertainty over when vaccination rates would reach 90 per cent of the population.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was a difficult decision given the facility was much-loved locally, had not ever been closed since 1998, and was Hawke’s Bay’s main visitor attraction last summer.

“We were faced with this decision last year as well and decided to open, resulting in one of the most successful years ever for Splash Planet with record numbers of people visiting.

“With the delta COVID variant and currently being in Alert Level 2, however, the situation is more uncertain and with many of our visitors being young children who would not be vaccinated, and the possibility it might be some time before 90 per cent vaccination rates are reached, we considered the risks were too high.”

There were also financial implications associated with opening at Alert Level 2 with reduced numbers, and not opening at all would save operational and staff costs, and give certainty to the public and staff.

 “Like with any business at the moment, this is challenging for us,” said Mrs Hazlehurst.

“Splash Planet is a seasonal offering and we are not able to spread the costs and potential losses throughout the year – we had to balance the public health risks of opening or not and the risk of the financial losses to ratepayers, against what this facility means to the community and the benefits it brings to the region.”

28 October 2021

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