Watch: Thousands attend COVID-free concert in Hawkes Bay
Thousands of people in New Zealand have been attending massive festivals and gigs while the UK population is bound to their homes under its third national coronavirus lockdown.
At least 8,000 people went to the three-day Soundsplash music festival in Raglan, just south of Auckland on the weekend, the NZ Herald reported.
Meanwhile, concerts for the native soul-pop band Six60 have seen crowds of more than 20,000 people as the musicians tour towns like Hastings, Paihia, Christchurch and Hamilton this month, Hot Press reported.
These are just some of the outdoor events being held in the country, which has virtually stamped out all community transmission of coronavirus.
The crowds at these events are reportedly not even required to wear masks or social distance.
New Zealand also hosted various New Year's Eve music festivals, including Rhythm and Vines, Rhythm & Alps and the Northern Bass festivals.
It comes as countries in Europe and other parts of the world struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK has been hit particularly hard in the last two months as a new variant of the disease fuels a devastating second wave.
While New Zealanders attend large crowded events and continue life almost as normal, Brits are barely able to leave their homes.
Hospitality venues, schools and officers remain closed as the UK continues to deal with huge infection rates and overwhelmed health care services.
The world-famous Glastonbury Festival, which was not set to take place until June, has already been cancelled, with organisers saying: "It has become clear that we simply will not be able to make the festival happen this year."
The country has seen more than 100,000 COVID deaths and more than 3.67 million cases since the pandemic began last month.
Many have blamed the massive death toll on Boris Johnson’s government, saying it has acted too slowly on imposing lockdown measures, failed to launch an adequate contact tracing system and deployed mixed-messaging over restrictions.
— WicMar (@WicMar) January 23, 2021
The UK is also a major transport hub with a population of almost 67 million people in a small country, which makes the spread of the virus hard to control.
On the other hand, New Zealand has only seen 1,934 confirmed cases in all and just 25 deaths and Jacinda Arden’s government has been praised for its response to the pandemic.
Watch: NZ PM ‘confident’ country halted virus
The country's prime minister plunged it into lockdown in March as soon as there was evidence of community transmission.
But New Zealand also has a fraction of the UK’s population at five million people and has 10% more land. Its geographical isolation also helps in the country’s ability to virtually eliminate coronavirus within its borders.
On Tuesday, Ardem announced that New Zealand's borders will remain closed for most of this year, although it will pursue travel arrangements with neighbouring Australia and other Pacific nations.
Pressure is beginning to mount on the government to start rolling out vaccinations after the country confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus in the community in months.
A woman who returned to New Zealand on 30 December tested positive for the South African strain of the virus after leaving a two-week mandatory quarantine. This led Australia to immediately suspend a travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours.
New Zealand also reported two new cases of COVID-19 at its managed isolation facilities on Tuesday and no new community cases.
"Given the risks in the world around us and the uncertainty of the global rollout of the vaccine, we can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year," Ardern said at a news conference.
For travel to restart, authorities either needed confidence that those vaccinated don't pass COVID-19 on to others, which is not yet known, or enough of the population needed to be vaccinated so people can safely re-enter New Zealand. But both possibilities will take some time, she said.
Watch: N.Z’s first case in months sparks Aus. travel ban