Bluesfest Has Been Cancelled Due to COVID-19 for the Second Year in a Row
The move has been made "to minimise the risk of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant of concern being transmitted in the local area, as well as across states and territories."
Much about this last week of March has felt like history repeating itself — initially for Brisbanites, and now for anyone with an Easter date with Bluesfest. For the second year in a row, the Byron Bay festival won't be going ahead, with NSW Health announcing that a public health order has been signed that cancels the 2021 event.
The long-running festival was set to return to Byron Events Farm (formerly Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm) just outside Byron Bay from Thursday, April 1 — for the Easter long weekend, headlined by Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley, Ziggy Alberts and The Teskey Brothers. But, as happened last year, COVID-19 has gotten in the way.
NSW Health has advised that the move has been made "to minimise the risk of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant of concern being transmitted in the local area, as well as across states and territories."
Over the past weekend, between Friday, March 26–Sunday, March 28, Byron Bay was visited by two people who later tested positive to COVID-19 as part of Greater Brisbane's current cluster. Today, Wednesday, March 31, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that one person in Byron Bay has since tested positive as well.
And, the Premier also advised that from 5pm AEDT today until at least 11.59pm on Monday, April 5, the Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore shires will reinstate a number of social distancing restrictions. So, they'll be in effect exactly when Bluesfest was due to run. The north coast regions will revert back to 30-person caps for at-home gatherings, and will reintroduce the one person per four-square-metres rule at all indoor public settings, including hospitality venues. Folks in the area will also have to sit, not stand, while having a drink. And, masks will be compulsory on public transport, in retail settings and indoors in public places.
"Infectious Queensland travellers attended a number of venues in the Byron Bay area and the new locally acquired case was infected at one of these venues," said NSW Health in its statement. "NSW Health acknowledges that the cancellation of Bluesfest is disappointing for ticket holders and event organisers; however, while urgent investigations and contact tracing are ongoing, NSW Health is adopting a cautious approach to keep everyone safe."
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard noted that "while the cancellation of Bluesfest is disappointing for music lovers and the local community, I hope that ticket holders would support Bluesfest and hold on to their tickets as I understand Bluesfest will be working on a new date as soon as possible."
At the time of writing, Bluesfest hasn't made a statement about the cancellation. Via the festival's last social media posts earlier today, event organisers said that an update was coming soon.
NSW Health advised that it wished "to acknowledge the outstanding cooperation of Mr Peter Noble and his organising team, who were working hard to ensure Bluesfest would be conducted in a COVID-safe manner."
For more information about the status of COVID-19 in NSW, head to the NSW Health website.
Top image: Joseph Mayers
Published on March 31, 2021 by Sarah Ward