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Australia’s NSW to allow 5,000-cap country fairs

The government in Australian state New South Wales (NSW) will allow country fairs to host up to 5,000 people from January 2021, the second-largest attendance permitted at outdoor events since social distancing restrictions were imposed.

The Bowral Show, scheduled for 9 January at the Bong Bong Picnic Racecourse, will be the first event to welcome an audience of that size since the NRL grand final in October, which accommodated 40,000 seated fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium (cap. 83,500).

Deputy premier John Barilaro, who is also the minister for regional NSW, announced the rollback of restrictions recently in a bid to boost the economies of regional areas hit by the pandemic.

Safety measures will include social distancing at venues, controlled access at entry points throughout the show to minimise crowding, a limit to the number of attendees depending on venue size and the one person per four-square-metre rule.

The 5,000-capacity allowance has not yet been extended to other types of events such as festivals.

“The industry has a framework to deliver Covid-safe events using the Live Entertainment Industry Forum Guidelines, the same guidelines created with other leading promoters and arenas that has seen the recent return of crowds to sporting events,” says Australian Festival Association spokeswoman Julia Robinson.

“There is a long way to go for a sector worth $2.7 billion that employs nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent workers”

“The easing of restrictions in regional areas is an important step for an industry that was switched off in March, however there is a long way to go for a sector worth AUS$2.7 billion that employs nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent workers nationally.”

This week NSW and Sydney are enjoying a return to live with the month-long festival, Great Southern Nights.

The event, which is an NSW government initiative, will take place throughout November, Australia’s Music Month, in an attempt to “stimulate the revival of the live music and entertainment sectors and, in turn, the visitor economy in the recovery phase of Covid-19″.

The festival will host 1,000 Covid-secure gigs featuring artists including Jimmy Barnes, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Tones & I, AB Original, Vera Blue, Hoodoo Gurus Ruel, Lime Cordiale, Alex The Astronaut, Missy Higgins and Matt Corby.

Live music has also returned in part to regional Victoria, albeit under stringent restrictions.

Indoor venues remain closed but the state is permitting live music in outdoor spaces under several conditions; gig-goers must remain seated and are limited to tables of ten, which must be at least 1.5 metres apart from any other table. Band members are required to wear a mask, singers excluded, and must stand at least two metres from each other and five from the audience.


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