Incredible photos of more than 50,000 people at a concert in Auckland have made New Zealand the envy of the world.
Several images of the Six60 concert at packed Eden Park stadium on Saturday night were shared online and many people from countries still heavily impacted by coronavirus deemed Australia's neighbours lucky to be able to see live music again in large crowds without concerns for safety.
A day later in Melbourne over 78,000 attended the Anzac Day AFL match between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG, the largest crowd at a sporting event since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
One Twitter user, Laird Cameron, posted a photo from the gig, saying: "Feeling blessed to be a New Zealander. Not many places in the world right now where about 50,000 can safely come together and enjoy an awesome show."
His tweet was flooded with responses from people in the US, Canada and Germany.
"So lucky to be where you are, stay safe. We're waiting for better days here in Canada... so we can feel live music again too," one person wrote.
Another Twitter user in the US said: "Amazing! New Zealand can do all this without relying on vaccines and we in the US can’t even get it right with all the vaccines available to us."
"So jealous of New Zealand [in] so many ways. Please teach the US how to be a decent country," a third person added.
Underneath a story tweeted out by news agency Associated Press, others also expressed their awe at New Zealand being able to hold a concert with tens of thousands of people.
"Guess this is what happens when you have a leader who didn't pretend the virus was a hoax and who knew injecting bleach was not the way to go," a US-based Twitter user wrote, appearing to refer to former president Donald Trump.
"New Zealand was able to beat COVID. A total of 26 deaths and 2600 cases. They deserve this concert," another said.
Some users pointed to the US and certain states which have allowed for crowds to return to sporting fixtures despite thousands of daily cases still occurring across the nation. The decision for the UFC to welcome 15,000 fans at Florida's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday was branded "disturbing".
Six60, fans ecstatic for live music return
Some of the band's fans on Facebook also expressed their gratitude for being able to watch their concert via livestream, despite being under tough lockdown rules.
"Amazing. We are in level 5 lockdown in Ireland and it was great to watch live," one woman wrote.
While much of the world remains hunkered down, Six60 has been playing to huge crowds in New Zealand, where social distancing isn’t required after the nation stamped out the coronavirus.
The five-piece band’s tour finale on Saturday night was billed as the largest concert in the world since the pandemic began.
Equally momentous for a band which met while playing rugby at university was getting to play the first concert ever held at the storied Eden Park rugby stadium.
One fan, Lucy Clumpas, found it a surreal experience to be surrounded by so many people after she spent last year living through endless lockdowns in Britain.
“It’s very important for us as humans to be able to get together and sing the same songs together,” she said. “It makes us feel like we’re part of something,”
Matiu Walters, the lead singer, said they desperately wanted their musician friends around the world to be able to play live shows again.
“We know what it’s like to be in lockdown. It sucked. And we didn’t know if we’d be able to play gigs again,” he said in an interview before the show.
“But we are fortunate, for a few reasons, here in New Zealand.”
New Zealand has not had a case of community transmission since February 28, according to its Ministry of Health.
Twenty-six people have died in the country from coronavirus out of 2601 infections.
Last week, the country's long awaited travel bubble with Australia, which means travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival, began to the joy of many who had spent months separated from friends and family.
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