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Chief Medical Officer Reiterates “High Risk” Nature Of Music Festivals, Says It’s “Not Front Of Mind”

Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has provided an update around the viability of large-scale public events such as music festivals this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, while speaking at a press conference, Kelly was asked about what “the current thinking” was on those events, along with being asked if the Health Department was providing “any guidance or advice on planning those events”.

“From what we know, are those kind of events going to be able to occur anywhere in Australia, maybe even states like WA or SA, which seem to have the virus fully eliminated?” asked a journalist.

Kelly explained that while the issues relating to music festivals was something the Australian health protection committee had looked at “very closely” some weeks ago, that has since changed as the escalation of COVID cases in Victoria has taken more attention. “I must admit, it’s not front of mind.”

“We did start looking at the particular issues in relation to music events, and when you think about it, they are relatively high risk. Large numbers of people, often multi-day events, lots of close contact, dancing and singing and so forth, all of these things are higher risk than some other mass gatherings,” commented Kelly.

The CMO went on to explore the viability of large-scale events in areas such as Western Australia or the Northern Territory, where community transmission of the virus has been relatively low.

“Of course they can do their own developments within those states, which have had less cases and continue to have less cases. But they’re wary,” Kelly cautioned.

“They’ve seen what’s happened in Victoria, which virtually eliminated the virus just as recently as six or seven weeks ago, and how rapidly that can develop. And so it’s a cautious approach at the moment, and in terms of specific advice or planning, it’s not happening right now.”

Earlier this week, a music festival in Western Australia was indeed announced. Wave Rock Weekender 2020 is scheduled to take place this September with a locally-sourced lineup that includes the likes of Pond, San Cisco, Spacey Jane and Stella Donnelly.

Representatives for the event confirmed upon its announcement that “the festival is making extra room to ensure it can run in either Phase 4 or Phase 5 restrictions safely.”

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