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Major events in question due to COVID

3 weeks ago 22

Questions surrounding annual South Australian events, regularly scheduled for the end of the year, remain amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said while there were still discussions, it was likely the Schoolies Festival – scheduled for November 20-22 – would not go ahead.

He said it was possible year 12 leavers would still travel to the Fleurieu Peninsula regardless of the festival’s main events being cancelled.

“(Schoolies) has been an active discussion amongst police and SA Health. In all likelihood, we can forecast the major events at Schoolies won’t be going ahead, but there is further consideration in relation to the likelihood of a large number of year 12 students heading down to the Fleurieu and how we can safely manage that as well,” he said on ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We’ve been in consultation with the organisers for several weeks and certainly have not held anything back. They know that the large concert activity won’t be occurring, but we’re looking at what Schoolies looks like going forward.

“We’re not going to allow thousands of young people to go against everything we’ve put in place at this point in time.

“As much as we’d love for these kids to celebrate the end of their schooling, this is a different year, it’s different for everybody and everybody is feeling the effects of it.”

He said people shouldn’t be mingling with strangers and having up to 10,000 at a concert would be “ virtually impossible” to contact trace if an outbreak was to occur.

“But if you have groups of 10 or 20 kids in private dwellings, each of those kids will know each other, so if we do need to back trace, we can still do that.”

As for the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant, Mr Stevens said Events SA were working “furiously” to put together an alternative plan for the November 14 event.

He said moving the event to Victoria Park Racecourse or Adelaide Oval where children could be separated were “the types of things” being discussed.

“We simply can't have 300,000 people crammed within a 3km or 4km pageant route, so they're looking at alternatives to make sure it can go ahead, but we don’t have the specifics as of yet.

“The sad thing is we won’t be able to accommodate 300,000 people like the existing pageant does, but they're working as hard as they can to ensure we have that celebration where Father Christmas comes to town.”

Despite these events looking to be cancelled or altered, SA pitched for the AFL Grand Final to be held at Adelaide Oval on October 24.

Mr Stevens said if SA had been successful, hosting the event would have been a “two-edged sword”.

“I would have loved for SA to host the AFL Grand Final. That would have been great for the state, but there would have been a range of complexities that go with that that we would need to work through.

“There was some community concern about the fact that we were talking about a cohort of Victorians coming in for that event where we've restricted other people for coming in for compelling reasons.

“We need to remember the AFL Grand Final is six to eight weeks away, and the way Victoria is travelling at the moment, it’s likely they would have been in a much better spot.”

Earlier this week, Premier Steven Marshall flagged his interest in hosting the Australian Grand Prix if Melbourne were unable to.

It was also announced on Monday that The Bend track owners, the Shahin family, were preparing to host two Supercars rounds on September 19-20 and 26-27.

“(The Supercars) it’s going to be a massive operation, but I think everyone is going to work together to make that event as successful as possible within the framework we now have to operate in because of COVID,” Mr Stevens said.

“The people operating the event will need to submit their COVID management plan which will be reviewed by SA Health, and they give advice on how to best run the event in a safe way.

“The police will be out there to support the event managers so that the people who are attending comply with those restrictions, which means the event can happen and people can do it safely.”

He said Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s hopes of things returning to normal by December were unrealistic.

“The advice we’re getting from health is it’s insidious and spreads so quickly that even if we do manage to eradicate community transmission in Australia, we saw what happened in NZ,” Mr Stevens said.

“We just have to live in what is a COVID normal now until there is vaccine or until the virus disappears, but I can’t see that happening before Christmas.

“We’re in the institution we are in now because of the way SA as a whole approached this unusual set of circumstances.

“I can't overstate how seriously we take this (virus) … The risk of the virus coming in still exists, so we need to make sure we have some controls in place to limit the opportunities for this virus to spread.”

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