A major summer music festival has been forced to cancel just a week out after a shock decision by policymakers to ban singing and dancing at outdoor events.
The Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate in the New South Wales Hunter Valley was set to feature major Australian acts including Peking Duk, The Veronicas, San Cisco and the Inspired Unemployed – now more than 16,000 tickets will need to be refunded.
Heartbroken organisers say the forced cancelation will cost the hard-hit tourism hotspot about $5.2million in lost revenue, as well as 1,400 jobs.
The Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate in the New South Wales Hunter Valley (pictured) in has been forced to cancel just days out
Heartbroken organisers say the forced cancelation will cost the hard-hit tourism hotspot about $5.2million in lost revenue costing the area about 1400 jobs
WHAT ARE NSW’S NEW COVID RULES?
SINGING AND DANCING BANNED: Cutting shapes and belting out a tune is now banned both at indoor venues and during outdoor events. The only exceptions are for religious gatherings, weddings and rehearsals.
TESTING CHANGES: People will be able to log positive RAT results with Service NSW from next week. They will be counted in daily Covid case figures.
STANDING AT VENUES: Venues will be discouraged from allowing ‘vertical consumption’ while drinking at bars and pubs.
ELECTIVE SURGERY SUSPENDED: The state has suspended elective surgery until mid-February to relieve pressure on the hospital system.
BAN ON LARGE EVENTS: The ‘overwhelming majority’ of events will proceed, but will need approval of NSW Health.
Premier Dominic Perrottet, after months of railing against Covid restrictions, announced last week that singing and dancing at indoor hospitality venues would be banned.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant explained the decision by saying the virus spreads easier on the dance floor compared to when people are sitting down, as people move around and interact with many others.
Outdoor events were originally excluded from the public health order but late on Tuesday NSW Health announced the amendment had been expanded in a move set to devastate the already crippled live music industry.
The latest restriction is yet another embarrassing backflip for Premier Perrottet as the state recorded a further 25,000 Covid cases on Tuesday – with many more in the community going undiagnosed due to overwhelmed testing clinics and a shortage of rapid kits.
NSW still has no way to let citizens officially report their positive rapid test results, despite a system already being introduced in Victoria and Queensland – making up half of the southern state’s recent results.
A statement posted to Grapevine Gathering Instagram page said the festival had done all it could to comply with the rules.
‘We are deeply sorry this news come at the final hour. We understand many of you have had travel plants and arrangements locked in for some time,’ organisers said.
‘This is a devastating blow not only to the live music industry. But also to regional tourism.
‘A projected loss of over $5.2million to the greater Hunter Valley region is expected from this cancellation. Over 1400 jobs are now lost across our artists, food vendors, security, production, crew ticketing staff and more who were deep in preparation for the weekend.’
Dr Chant said last Friday said that health authorities are particularly concerned about environments where singing and dancing are taking place because ‘you’re actually encountering and bringing together people from very different social networks.’
The Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate in the New South Wales Hunter Valley (pictured) was set to feature major Australian acts including Peking Duk, The Veronicas, San Cisco and the Inspired Unemployed
Premier Dominic Perrottet, after months of railing against Covid restrictions, announced singing and dancing is now banned both indoors and out
‘When you go and sit down with your five friends in a restaurant and you’re just sitting down, the only people that you really coming into contact with our mask-wearing rules,’ she said.
‘With the hospitality staff wearing masks, you wearing masks until you sit down is that group you’re with.
‘But when you’re actually dancing on a dance floor, when you’re energised and singing in a group and moving around, then you actually risking exposing people that you would normally day-to-day not come into contact with.’
Although the Perrottet government has scrapped singing and dancing in pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars, entertainment facilities and major recreation facilities like music festivals, there are still some exemptions.
Large religious gatherings are able go ahead with members of the congregation belting out hymns, while cutting shapes is still permitted at weddings.
Students, instructors and performers are also allowed to rehearse.
NSW Health has defended its decision to exempt religious gathers from the rules.
‘Singing and dancing in hospitality venues and nightclubs is deemed high risk due to increased movement and mingling within and across these venues, the influence of alcohol consumption, and the removal of masks in these settings to consume food and drink,’ a spokesperson said.
‘People attending religious services generally remain in fixed positions and masks are mandatory for these indoor gatherings.’
Organisers of Grapevine Gathering (revellers pictured) say they will now have to refund about 16,000 tickets
Stephen Wade, chairman of the Australian Live Music Business Council, said the industry ‘has been consistently targeted whenever there seems to be a major issue in Covid cases’. Pictured: Grapevine Gathering music festival
But it’s a bitter pill to swallow for the live music industry.
Stephen Wade, chairman of the Australian Live Music Business Council, said the industry ‘has been consistently targeted whenever there seems to be a major issue in Covid cases.’
‘It seems that our industry is an easy target, and has been consistently targeted whenever there seems to be a major issue in Covid cases,’ he told The Australian.
‘The confusion for the people who make their living within our industry is: what is the difference between singing and dancing at the cricket, or at Hillsong, or at a wedding, which are all allowed as of today?’
‘Our industry cops this again, without consultation. We’re consistently punished, as soon as everything goes really bad.’