??Update: Bluesfest 2021 has been cancelled over commnity transmission fears. Read more here.
The promoters of Byron Bay music festival Bluesfest have reassured punters the event is going ahead in two days' time, but ticket holders from Greater Brisbane will not be allowed to attend on day one.
The announcement comes despite concerns COVID-19 may have spread in Byron Bay after two infected sisters attended a hen's night party in the Northern New South Wales town over the weekend.
Queensland Health confirmed five more COVID-19 cases who also attended that event have been connected to the sisters. In addition, NSW Health added more venues to its list of locations of concern this morning.
Nevertheless, the five-day celebration of blues and roots music is expected to go ahead this Easter long weekend. The 2020 edition was cancelled just days before it was meant to begin due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Based on advice from NSW Health, festival organisers will not allow ticket holders affected by the three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane to attend the festival on day one, that being Thursday, 1 April.
"We will keep ticket buyers informed and advise them to also keep updated via their state government advice," says Bluesfest.
"Festival Director Peter Noble has been in contact with NSW Health this morning and spoken with NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard. We are expecting further updates from NSW Health and will remain in close contact in the coming days."
The event will also be ensuring COVID-safe measures are in place, including asking attendees to sign in with Service NSW's QR code, having people be socially distanced, and keeping attendees in designated seating zones during performances.
Hazzard has reiterated the message of Bluesfest, telling those from Brisbane to stay home on Thursday.
"To the people of Brisbane who might have bought tickets to come to Bluesfest, do not come!" Hazzard said.
"Thursday is out of any question if you listened to what your government is saying. If the Government in Queensland extends the lockdown period, and we are not saying they will at this stage, but if they do, clearly people who have bought or are buying tickets from Brisbane are not welcome to attend the festival.
"In essence, people who have not been to Brisbane or to the areas that have been highlighted by the Greater Brisbane area; highlighted by the Queensland government, yes you are welcome, but nobody else during this particular period, so just be very cautious on that front."
NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 overnight, but a number of new locations were added to a list of venues of concern.
In addition to a list of venues of concern released yesterday afternoon, NSW Health says anyone who attended the following venues in Byron Bay is considered a close contact and must self-isolate for 14 days:
- Mokha Café patrons who sat in the Feros Arcade laneway, Saturday 27 March from 11am-12pm
- Betty's Burgers & Concrete Co patrons who sat in the Feros Arcade laneway, Saturday 27 March from 11am-12pm.
Further, NSW Health has expanded its warning for the Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park, asking anyone who was at the park from Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March to get tested and self-isolate until a negative test result is received. Initially, the warning was for the women's communal toilets at the park.
The same direction applies for patrons of Mokha Café who were sitting inside or out the front of the venue (not in the laneway) from 11am-12pm on Saturday 27 March.
"Because known COVID-19 cases spent time at a shared outdoor laneway in Feros Arcade, NSW Health has identified two venues of concern," says NSW Health.
"The known cases were located in an outdoor section of the Mokha Café, in very close proximity to the outdoor section of Betty's Burgers & Concrete Co, meaning anyone who attended those outdoor sections of both restaurants is considered a close contact.
"Anyone who attended the indoor section of Mokha Café is considered a casual contact, but those indoors at Betty's Burgers & Concrete Co are not considered at risk of transmission at this time."
NSW Health has established new COVID-19 testing clinics in Byron Bay, including a drive-through, and Byron Central Hospital will increase its operating hours. NSW Health is also extending the hours of operation of other nearby testing clinics, including those in Tweed and Ballina.
Updated at 12.59pm AEDT on 30 March 2021.
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