The iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest has been cancelled over fears it could become a COVID-19 powder keg. This is what to do with your tickets.
The hugely popular Bluesfest that was set to feature Jimmy Barnes and Pete Murray at Byron Bay has been cancelled by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard amid fears it could become a COVID-19 superspreader event.
The picturesque coastal town in northern NSW is on high alert with a new list of venues visited by a man infected with the virus.
The man, aged in his 20s, attended the Byron Beach Hotel where positive cases from Queensland were recorded.
He sat close to the Queensland travellers who were infectious at the time, but his three friends have returned negative results.
Bluesfest was set to begin at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on Thursday but was cancelled on Wednesday.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has urged disappointed music lovers and the local community to hold on to their tickets.
“I understand Bluesfest will be working on a new date as soon as possible,” Mr Hazzard said.
Ticketholders are being urged not to come to the site and will be contacted by Moshtix directly once the event has an update on how to proceed.
“To all ticket buyers and music fans, we are hoping that you will support the festival and hold tickets to the rescheduled event,” Festival director Peter Noble said.
In a statement late Wednesday, organisers said they were “heartbroken” that COVID-19 had spread to the local community, leading to the cancellation.
Bluesfest was to have been the first major festival to occur in Australia since the global pandemic began with a capacity of 16,500 people daily over its five days, three stages, and camp sites operating at around 50 per cent of its normal capacity.
Mr Noble said the team had worked day and night for a year to achieve a first of its kind COVID-19 Safety Plan.
“This is one of the most difficult statements I have ever had to make. We really wanted to be at the forefront of the return of live music at Pre-COVID-19 level,” he said.
“We feel deeply for everybody affected, the fans, the artists, and the hard-working Bluesfest team. But in the end, the health of our community must come first.
“We will be having discussions regarding Bluesfest postponement and will update everybody soon. However, this weekend we will be packing down the event that was cancelled within 24 hours of gates due to open.”
Mr Hazzard flagged his concerns earlier on Wednesday.
“At this stage the government has concerns, I have concerns as Health Minister that having … up to 15,000 on any one day could be a challenge if some of these people may have got the virus from this infectious group that came from Queensland.”
People from the Brisbane, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Logan, and Redlands areas were banned from attending the planned first day of the event given they are subject to Brisbane’s three-day lockdown.
The line-up for this year’s edition included rocker Barnes, acoustic artist Murray as well as Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley and the Teskey Brothers.
“NSW is adopting a cautious approach to keep everyone safe,” the department said.