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New COVID outbreak sees cancellation of Newcastle’s Lunar Electric festival

New COVID outbreak sees cancellation of Newcastle’s Lunar Electric festival
December 17, 2021

New outbreaks of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the NSW Hunter Valley has seen the cancellation of Newcastle’s Lunar Electric music festival.

Due to have been staged on Newcastle's foreshore tomorrow (18th December), the event was cancelled by NSW Health two days out from being staged.

In a statement release yesterday, NSW Heath advised "NSW Health considered that the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Newcastle area, where the majority of a record number of cases are the Omicron variant of concern, presents too great a risk for the festival to take place this weekend.

"NSW Health has advised the organisers of the festival this afternoon of the cancellation.

"NSW Health continues to be concerned about the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Newcastle area, where several venues and events have now seen extensive transmission.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant is a timely reminder of the importance of booster shots in maintaining a high level of protection against the COVID-19 virus."

In a post on LinkedIn about the cancellation, Steve Clark, Manager at OTS Consulting Services, wrote "(this) should marked a return to live music festivals in NSW.

"I was due to work with the great crews from Lunar Electric and Global Event Management and welcome 12,000 music lovers into a field that would have had some great music and great vibes.

"However, once again Covid-19 and its new variant had other plans.

"I can’t say for certain how many more times the industry will be knock down but one thing’s for sure … we shall overcome.”

The cancellation is understood to be causing concern among the organisers of events and festivals across NSW as well as among Sydney theatres and venues.

NSW currently faces with predictions of an “astronomical” rise in Coronavirus cases, just days after COVID-19 rules have been eased around the state.

As reported today by Guardian Australia, Sydney theatres are extending their mask and vaccination mandates and continue to ask for all ticket holders to show vaccination certificates.

With new health modelling warning of a potential 25,000 cases a day, most major Sydney performing arts venues and companies have decided to go beyond the current public health orders and extended their requirement for all ticket holders to show vaccination certificates and wear masks throughout the performance (unless medically exempt).

Opera Australia, which has five operas including Turandot, Otello and La Bohème opening in the Sydney Opera House from 31st December, confirmed the company is “cautiously optimistic” about the summer season but is in urgent talks to prepare for a range of emergency scenarios.

New Opera Australia Chief Executive, Fiona Allan told Guardian Australia “it’s inevitable that Covid will enter the workforce (so) we are preparing for every possibility.”

Allan said the company was determined to go ahead with its summer season even if shows have to be presented in a stripped back, concert-style version.

Rising COVID-19 stress is impacting the live performing arts sector beyond theatres. The 10-day Tamworth country music festival, which contributes $70 million to the state’s economy, mostly from domestic tourists, is due to open on 14th January, just as the predicted Omicron wave is due to spike in NSW.

Organisers are concerned it might face a snap public health order shutdown like the Lunar Electric music festival.

Click here to read the NSW Health statement on the cancellation of the Lunar Electric music festival.

Images: The Lunar Electric music festival site in Newcastle without fans today (top and below, credit: Steve Clark) and the evetn in 2019 (below, credit: Lunar Electric).

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