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April 14, 2021

BREAKING: Bluesfest cancelled due to COVID fears as locally-acquired case discovered

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Update 4.45pm, March 31

Byron Bluesfest has been cancelled by order of the NSW Health Minister, after a locally-acquired COVID case was discovered last night.

In devastating news for music fans, performers, and thousands of behind-the-scene workers and stall holders, Health Minister Brad Hazzard issued a public health order this afternoon cancelling the iconic event.

Expected to attract up to 16,500 music fans from across the country, the event has now been cancelled for the second year running.

‘This action is being taken to minimise the risk of the highly infectious COVID-19 variant of concern being transmitted in the local area, as well as across states and territories,’ NSW Health said in a statement.

Mr Hazzard said the 2021 festival would be rescheduled and encouraged would-be attendees to hold onto their tickets.

‘While the cancellation of Bluesfest is disappointing for music lovers and the local community, I hope that ticket holders would support Bluesfest and hold on to their tickets, as I understand Bluesfest will be working on a new date as soon as possible,’ he said.

Coming just a day before the festival was due to open, the news is a huge let-down given the amount of work that has already been undertaken.

‘This is one of the most difficult statements I have ever had to make,’ Bluefsest Director Peter Noble said.

‘We really wanted to be at the forefront of the return of live music at Pre-COVID-19 level.

‘We feel deeply for everybody affected, the fans, the artists, and the hard-working Bluesfest team. But in the end, the health of our community must come first.

‘We will be having discussions regarding Bluesfest postponement and will update everybody soon. However, this weekend we will be packing down the event that was cancelled within 24 hours of gates due to open.’

In a statement, festival organisers said they were getting the message out as quickly as possible so that those traveling to the event could make alternate arrangements

Bluesfest was to have been the first major festival to occur in Australia and possibly the world since the summer of 2019/20.

It had a capacity of 16,500 people daily over its five days, with three performance stages, plus camping – operating at approximately 50 percent of normal capacity and production.

The Bluesfest team had worked for a year to achieve the approved COVID-19 Safety Plan – the first of its kind in the music industry and have been told by the NSW Health that it exceeded other major sporting events in its depth and ability to protect the public.

Update: 12.45pm

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced new COVID-related restrictions for the Byron, Ballina, Tweed and Lismore shires until the end of Easter, as the first locally-acquired case from the Beach Hotel hens party is confirmed.

The restrictions include limiting private home gatherings to 30, and that all venues revert to the four-square-metre rule and require patrons to stay seated.

‘We also ask for people in those four local government areas to wear a mask and we will make this mandatory in retail if you are going shopping, in hospitality venues if you’re a worker and on public transport…’ Ms Berejiklian said.

New case

Ms Berejiklian also confirmed that a man in his 20s who attended the Beach Hotel at the same time as the hens party at the centre of the Queensland outbreak has tested positive for the virus.

The man’s three friends have been tested and returned negative results.

As a result of this new case, the first local case to emerge from the Hen’s party, NSW Health has identified new venues which may have been spreading points for COVID.

These include the Ballina Golf and Sports Club pro shop on Sunday March 28 between 2.25pm and 2.35pm and The Henry Rous Tavern between 1.20pm and 2.20pm.

Anyone who attended those venues between those times is asked to immediately seek a COVID test and isolate until a negative test is returned.

Bluesfest concerns

Health Minister Brad Hazzard has also said that health officials have ‘concerns’ about Bluesfest, raising the prospect that the event could be more tightly restricted, or worse.

‘At this point all I can say to those people who might be intending to attend, and to the organisers themselves, which I have expressed to them personally… just be alert to the messages that will come from the NSW Government in the next 12-24 hours as we look at the unfolding situation…’ Mr Hazzard said.

‘It is important and complex, that we weigh up the competing interests of trying to let people do what we have always done in NSW, and that is have as much freedom as possible, to enjoy what NSW has done so well, what has been referred to as a gold-standard approach to managing this virus, but also to make sure we keep people safe.’

Other new cases from hen’s party cluster

The announcement follows revelations that five attendees at a Byron Bay hen’s party held last weekend have now tested positive for COVID-19, heightening concerns that the virus may spread throughout the local community.

As contact tracers work overtime to track down those who came in contact with the Queensland party-goers, NSW Health is urging anyone in the Byron region with even the mildest symptoms to get tested.

Those with symptoms are also being asked to isolate until they get a negative result.

The hens party cluster, which includes a nurse from Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and her sister, involves the highly-contagious UK strain of the virus.

This cluster is one of two that have resulted in a snap, three-day lockdown in Brisbane and compulsory mask-wearing throughout Queensland.

The Byron Shire has now been declared a red zone by the Northern Territory government, meaning that anyone returning to that state from this Shire must get tested and then go into quarantine.

The Shire has been declared an amber zone by the Victorian government.

The organisers of Bluesfest have declared that the festival will go ahead, having been given the all-clear by NSW Health.

As a Byron Shire resident, if you are showing symptoms for the virus, you can get tested for free at the Byron Hospital COVID-19 clinic.

Updated list of locations…

Yesterday NSW Health updated the list of places that the two sisters visited while they were in Byron Bay.

There are several venues consider to be a ‘close contact’ location and several are classed as ‘casual contact’ locations.

Anyone who attended a venue classed as a ‘close contact’ location must immediately get tested and self-isolate until advised further by NSW Health.

Anyone who attended a venue classed as a ‘casual contact’ location must get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. You should continue to monitor for symptoms and if any symptoms occur, get tested again.

Close contact locations

If you have been to:

Suffolk Park – Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park – women’s communal toilets in Suffolk Park during any of the following times:

Friday 26 March between 6pm to 6:30pm
Friday 26 March between 9:10pm to 9:30pm
Saturday 27 March between 3:20pm to 3:50pm

Byron Bay:

Byron Beach Hotel in Byron Bay on Friday 26 March from 7pm to 9pm
Mokha Café in Byron Bay on Saturday 27 March from 10:30am to 11:30am
Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co in Byron Bay on Saturday 27 March from 11am to 12pm including patrons who sat in the laneway (Feros Arcade)
The Farm Byron Bay on Sunday 28 March from 8:45am to 10:30am

Anyone who attended any of the above venues at these times is a close contact and must immediately get tested and self-isolate until advised further by NSW Health.


Casual contact locations

If you have been to:

Byron Bay – Ghanda Clothing on Saturday 27 March from 12pm to 12:15pm
Tiger Lily Byron Bay on Saturday 27 March from 12:25pm to 12:30pm
Black Sheep on Saturday 27 March from 12:30pm to 12:40pm
Quiksilver Byron Bay on Saturday 27 March from 12:40pm to 12:45pm

Suffolk Park – Suffolk Bakery on Saturday 27 March  from 2:45pm to 3:15pm
Park Hotel Bottle Shop on Saturday 27 March from 7:30pm to 7:45pm


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  1. Why didn’t the Queensland Government make sure ALL the front line staff were vaccinated?
    This is our “new normal”, I have noticed that the cleansing stations have been disappearing from shops and shopping centres. Those that do remain do not seem to have any sanitiser in them.
    I most sincerely hope the areas here in the Northern Rivers that have never had a COVID-19 case remain at zero.
    To all my neighbours and anyone else living in this beautiful part of the world, Stay COVID safe.

  2. More than 900 people a week die from cancer in Australia and 50 women a week are diagnosed with breast cancer.If the government spent as much time and resources on that as they have on the covid knee jerk reaction we might see some real progress in health of the population.

  3. “”NSW has done so well, what has been referred to as a gold-standard approach to managing this virus, “””says Brad Hazzard above

    Brad Hazzard and politicians sicken me with their self congratulation. These are the same “gold standard” people whole are endlessly letting the virus escape from the insecure “secure” hotel quarantine system Also they’ve forgotten the Ruby Princess!

    • The transparently partisan lauding of the NSW government by our PM and other federal ministers – to put the boots in to Labor states – has been a disgrace. Politics king is the last thing that’s needed in response to a national crisis. It has been a convenient deflection from the complete abrogation by the federal government of its responsibilities for biosecurity and quarantine.

      Once again we have an example of the consequences of a crazy policy that houses quarantine in facilities not designed for it (akin to vertical cruise ships) in capital cities. When the inevitable “escapes” occur it’s into a densely populated area and a centre of economic activity. The PM’s response was a flat “we’re not doing it” when this was raised, and a reluctance to cooperate with Queensland to initiate bespoke facilities out of Brisbane.

      Now we have a complete lack of transparency about why we are at around only 15% of the vaccination target. Supply interruption is not the complete answer!

    • But Ronald, we must remember this is the same Brad Hazzard , who tried to convince Lismore of the wonders of Coal-Seam Gas, it was satisfying to see him laughed out of the Town hall, but unfortunately his kind of sycophant never goes far enough, and his claims of success of government policy for what is undeniably the result of community action in spite of the woeful lack of leadership and down right misinformation from the likes of Brendan Murphy and Scotty from marketing. All the while Gladys has only one objective , to open the borders and to hell with public safety. Surely it is now obvious , to even ‘visually challenged ‘ Freddy, we have NO effective government only a bunch of defective escapees from some private boarding school.
      Cheers, G”)

  4. For Covidians with faith in PCR it was just bad luck for the Blues.
    The sceptics among us are not surprised, Byron was a likely target.

    Wondering what the people of north Queensland think about the mandatory requirement to carry a mask at all times when outside the home. Another Psyop.

  5. Stupid to have even have considered having a festival this year. I hope Splendour & Falls are taking notes. It only takes one infected person to bring you and the community down.

  6. Having worked in Blues fest for the first ten years I am well aware of the prep that goes into it. I feel really sad for all who are involved in putting on the show.

    And if you think that the punters who booked accommodation in the shire are going to cancel after maybe loosing ticket money, think again. They will now be spread out everywhere with no one place to go. At least if the festival went ahead they be contained in one spot most of the time. And temperatures could have been taken at the entrance. Being mostly an older crowd they would have stayed seated and been more conscientious. Womadelaide went ahead with seated performances.

    I don’t understand how the footy, tennis, and other sporting events still go ahead. Not fair! A postponement at a later time this year might be the go.

    • It’s a tragedy on so many levels NJO, and the timing has a sense of Shakespearian irony. There may be no more virus circulating in the local community. Remember though that these sporting events have largely occurred at times of no evident community transmission – except the cricket in Sydney over summer which was questionable. There were also strict regimes of keeping people confined to discrete areas.

      Contact tracing of the latest cluster is still occurring with an extra positive case in Brisbane just today. Imagine the challenges a couple of positive cases of festival attendees would pose to contact tracing with thousands of participants. It’s good to see that despite this huge setback Peter Noble is not critical of the decision and let’s hope it is just a postponement.

    • On-site camping, not a feature of any of the events you list, must also poses huge challenges to safety protocols.

      I have also to comment on the idea that “ being mostly an older crowd they would have stayed seated and been more conscientious”. Age is no guarantee of wisdom and remember that parts of this shire are “scampemic” conspiracy central.

  7. So lock down in QLD is over and no more positive cases in Byron and only one linked case in QLD with 35,000 test done, Storm in a tea cup with millions of people being stuffed around with many just excepting this “leadership” without question🤷 Maybe there is another way. Blues fest that was going to start today and could have run safely is still cancelled with huge impacts on many levels. I trust all those pissed off with this over reach by the gov will vote for IMOP Informed Medical Options Party at the next election.

  8. The virus is more dangerous in an area where conspiracy nuts will not wear masks, social distance etc.
    Dollar shop gurus making matters worse.

  9. The qld premier said 80 % of all front line workers were vaccinated. There was 73 active cases with 50% from New Guinea, say there is about 500 or more front line workers in contact with active cases, why were they not vaccinated first? Political incompetence causing heartbreak and unnecessary financial loss but hey “Easter is good to go in qld”

    • At best the vaccine may reduce symptoms (offset by risk of long and short experimental side-effects) and do nothing about transmission (assuming there is belief in unfit PCR). Guess that’s why some medical people choose not the vaccine.

      • Likely to stop you getting a life threading dose of the disease. I’m happy with that for starters. Transmission efficacy post vaccination is an unknown but looking promising.

        Like it or not a new virus puts us all into a medical experiment and the choice of how to respond (to get vaccinated or not) is yours but best to have the right information not the predictable anti-fax slant.

  10. In the UK , according to the the UK gov there has been, for Astrazeneca vax there has been only 294,820 adverse reactions with only 326 deaths reported
    for pfizer 108,649 and only 108,649 adverse reactions , isn’t that all good news.


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