Foals front man Yannis Philippakis ventures out into the crowd during the band's set at Splendour in the Grass 2019. Supplied by SITG PR.
Foals front man Yannis Philippakis ventures out into the crowd during the band's set at Splendour in the Grass 2019. Supplied by SITG PR.

Is this the year that music festivals died?

WILL there be any music festivals happening in NSW this year?

According to an off-hand comment by the Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, there may be no music festivals in the country for a while.

Speaking to the media last week, the CMO practically ruled out the possibility of mass gatherings until a vaccine is found for COVID-19.

And although there are a number of pharmaceutical companies across the world in a race to develop a vaccine, ti could be 12 to 18 months away.

If one is found.

Locally, Splendour in the Grass is a sold-out event meant to happen from October 23 to 25.

There were 42,500 tickets for the event sold in six hours.

Each one of those ticket-holders are now waiting to see what happens.

Mullum Music Festival, normally held in November, was cancelled in January.

Bluesfest 2020, which was to be held at Easter, was also cancelled, and while many are still waiting for their tickets to be refunded, organisers are asking them to roll over the funds for tickets to a 2021 festival, promising a similar line-up as was announced for 2020.

The cancellation of festivals may be the right thing to do health-wise, but it could also have a massive economic impact for our region.

An economic impact report undertaken by Lawrence Consulting showed Bluesfest 2019 contributed more than $83.4 million into the NSW economy.

Byron Shire benefited by $35.5 million and the Northern Rivers region by $59.1 million.

According to the Federal Department of Health, the final decision on whether big events will happen or not will be a decision for The National Cabinet.

"The National Cabinet will continue to meet and consider the latest health advice through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which is considering a careful and vigilant approach to rolling back restrictions,' a spokesperson said.

"When festivals and concerts are permitted, there may still be significant measures to maintain social distancing and to support good hygiene."

That could mean a limit to the maximum amount of days, number of people attending, whether they are allowed to camp overnight and other restrictions.

Authorities are clearly concerned about the idea of thousands of young people in a confined space for three days and nights.

"We've seen already how infectious the coronavirus is," the Department of Health spokesperson said.

"We saw early on in the outbreak how quickly one wedding can infect 35 people.

"We've seen how it spread during an outbreak in north-west Tasmania.

"We need to be absolutely sure we're not missing cases in the community and that we're prepared before changing the restrictions."

The Australian Festivals Association, Bluesfest Byron Bay, Splendour in the Grass and Mullum Music Festival were contacted for comment.

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