Larp in level 2

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New Zealand moves to level-2 tonight. I’ve seen people enthusiastic about the prospect of organising larps again. So what are the rules? Browsing the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020, it looks like:

  • We can not organise or attend events of more than 10 people. Anything larger than 10 people (other than a funeral or a family gathering) is a “higher-risk gathering”, and attending or organising one is an infringement offence, punishable by a fine of $300 (or $1,000 if you contest it)
  • You can run a small larp at home, as a gathering of friends and whānau. It must be no more than 10 people, and everyone must know one another and be able to identify them for the purposes of contact tracing. There appears to be no formal social distancing requirement here, though the website says that you should “keep the numbers low so you can practice safe physical distancing.” Technically such a gathering does not need to be at your home (the examples talk of a family gathering in a park), but its easiest that way.
  • If people do not all know one another, you can run a small larp as a lower-risk gathering. Again, this is no more than 10 people, and the organiser must keep records to enable contact tracing of the people who gather. That means collecting everyone’s full name, residential address, an effective means of contact such as a phone number or email address, and the dates and times at which they enter and leave (if you fail to do this, congratulations! You’re now a higher-risk gathering; see above). While the website says such gatherings are limited to two hours, this is not actually a legal requirement.
  • In both cases, participants must comply with reasonable, notified safety requirements of the organiser, or of any venue. Failure to do so is an infringement offence.
  • If you want to hire a venue, the venue will have to comply with the business requirements, which include enforcing social distancing of at least 1m (except for a gathering of friends and whānau), and keeping records to enable contact-tracing (which means providing them with the information above). This is hassle, so probably not worth doing.
  • If your larp is not voluntary or not-for-profit, you’re a business or service, and other restrictions apply.

The upshot: yes, you can organise small stuff for your friends. Anything more is complicated and risky. As for whether you should do it, that’s another question. But personally, I will not be organising anything for quite some time.

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As usual, providing the legal summary in clear and concise terms! Thank you so much.

Digital larps are not the same, but they will scratch the itch.

The Prime Minister has just announced that the limit for all gatherings will be raised to 100 from Friday. I’ll update the advice when the new Order is gazetted, but that’s a size which would allow many larp events to happen. At the least, it should give some certainty to events scheduled for later in the year (e.g. Consequence and Saga) that, if all continues to go well, they’ll be able to go ahead.

She’s also said that Cabinet will be discussing moving to level one (which will mean much fewer restrictions) in a month’s time.

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Update: Level-2 gathering rules will be relaxed at noon on Friday, 29 May. Below is an explanation of the new rules, as they relate to lap, from the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020 as (it will be) amended by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Amendment Order 2020:

  • We can not organise events of more than 100 people: Any social gathering (where people intermingle) of more than 100 people in a defined space is prohibited. It is the responsibility of both organisers and venues to ensure the 100-person limit is not breached, and failing to do so is an infringement offence, punishable by a fine of $300 (or $1,000 if you contest it).
  • Organisers must maintain records for contact-tracing. Technically this can be done by the venue or a participant, but to be on the safe side, an organiser should do it (and I would expect venues to be asking them to anyway as a condition of hire). The information requirements have now been relaxed, so that all that is required is the person’s full name, a means of contacting them (phone or email), and check-in and check-out times. Most sign-up processes will cover the first, but organisers will need to ensure there are check-in / check-out sheets immediately when people enter the venue, and that everyone fills them out.
  • There is no record-keeping requirement where everyone knows and can identify and contact everyone else. So small larps with your friends are fine, and you don’t even need check-in / check-out times, but be careful of assuming that this situation exists (someone you’ve met a couple of times at a game probably doesn’t qualify). Play it safe, unless you are absolutely certain - because if you’re wrong, its an infringement offence.
  • If your larp is not voluntary or not-for-profit, you’re a business or service, and other restrictions apply.

Most larps in New Zealand have fewer than 100 participants at the moment, so we’re generally good to restart stuff if we have proper check-in procedures and record-keeping. But again, whether you should do it, or whether people will want to any time soon, are completely different questions. I’ve seen some campaigns consulting their participants on when to run their next event, and that seems like a very good idea.

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Update: The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order will be officially revoked from midnight tonight. So from tomorrow, none of the above applies. There will be no Covid-19-related legal restrictions on larps.

We might want to talk about what constitutes “good practice” in a post-pandemic world, where the plague could come back at any moment though.

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For those in any doubt about the current rules under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Levels 3 and 2) Order 2020:

  • If you are in Auckland, you can not larp. You must stay at home.
  • If you are outside Auckland, the level 2 rules explained above apply. You cannot organise events of more than 100 people, and you must retain records for contract-tracing. Note that while larping may be legal under these circumstances, that does not make it a good idea, and people may be reluctant to attend and potentially expose themselves and others to infection.
  • Larps which are not voluntary or not-for-profit are classified as businesses or services. Other restrictions apply, including a requirement to display QR codes.

These rules will apply until at least August 26. Whether they apply after that will depend on how well we stay at home and wash our hands.

Via Twitter, an article in the BMJ about physical distancing. The core of it is this diagram, which roughly categorises risk by activities:

BMJ2mrule

Most larps involve speaking, many involve shouting (and some outdoor ones involve hard physical activity, which is the equivalent), and they all involve prolonged social contact. They do not categorise high vs low occupancy, but given that the article is about 1m vs 2m distancing, that’s probably a good guess. So, the risk for indoor larping is yellow-to-red with masks, depending on intensity and the crapness of the venue. Without masks, its red all the way. Which I guess we knew, given the regularity with which we get post-larp plague…