Entertainment WOMADelaide announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as 2022 festival returns to Botanic Park

06:17  20 october  2021
06:17  20 october  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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World music festival WOMADelaide has announced patrons must be fully vaccinated to attend in 2022.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie told ABC Radio Adelaide's Ali Clarke this morning that the rule would apply to "the staff, the artists, the crew, everyone who basically will work on and participate in the event, which obviously includes the audience".

While vaccinations have not been made mandatory for large events in South Australia, Mr Scobie said WOMADelaide organisers made the decision as a "duty of care to the artists and the audiences" for an event with a capacity of 18,000 people.

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"And equally with the event going on sale we didn't think it's fair for people to purchase tickets and then later be told, 'Oh by the way you need to be vaccinated'," he said.

"So what's going to be clear is when audiences go to buy a ticket there will be a checkbox for them to confirm that they understand and agree that in purchasing tickets that everyone who attends the festival [aged] 16 years and over will need to be fully vaccinated and have proof of their vaccination status."

Mr Scobie said he was aware that the rule meant some people would choose not to attend the festival.

"It's up to individuals of course, and look, I sympathise absolutely with someone who has an issue about vaccination, but we are in a pandemic," he said.

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"The pandemic will pass and for those individuals who decide not to come we understand that, that's perfectly understandable, but we really have to take the broader view of the entire audience and the community safety.

"And for those individuals that have an issue with it, well they'll have to just wait for a year and hopefully by 2023 the situation will have completely changed."

This year's WOMADelaide was held in a modified format of four seated concerts at King Rodney Park with a capacity of 6,000, and Mr Scobie said he was "thrilled" that the festival would return to its Botanic Park home for its 30th anniversary.

"The trade-off is if the audience are fully vaccinated in what is anticipated to be the situation in March next year, we can be back with the freedom of Botanic Park in the normal set up, if you can use 'normal' anymore, with seven stages and people able to move much more freely about the park," he said.

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"And for us, and we think for our audiences, that's more preferable and also a much safer way to present the event."

The festival program will be released next month and while Mr Scobie did not give any hints on the line-up, he said most, if not all, of the artists would be from within Australia due to the uncertainty about what international borders would look like next year.

"We really need to be contracting artists within the next several weeks, so I think it's going to likely be that most of the program will be from artists within Australia," he said.

Mr Scobie said an Australian line-up still "gives a great diversity of talent".

"And I can certainly assure audiences who know the festival that it will have the cultural and musical diversity that they're used to," he said.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told FIVEaa Breakfast that requiring full vaccination "dramatically improves the prospect of these major events" going ahead.

"We're all learning how we're going to look and manage activities post 80 per cent, post 90 per cent and one of those will be vaccinations," he said.

"If you're able to manage an event which is fully vaccinated then obviously that minimises risk, if it's less risky you would have more ability to do what you really want to get in with."

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Mr Stevens said it would be "wise" for Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority to consider requiring vaccination for next year's AFL season.

"I'm sure they're scoping out the practicalities of running fully-vaccinated events," he said.

Mr Stevens also said authorities should consider allowing restaurants that require patrons to be fully vaccinated to return to 100 per cent capacity in the future.

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