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News January 5, 2022

QLD festival at centre of COVID outbreak left in dark by govt

QLD festival at centre of COVID outbreak left in dark by govt
Image: Boaz (via Elements Festival)

The organisers of a Queensland music and arts festival linked to dozens of COVID cases say the state’s current health plans may not go far enough to protect patrons at festivals and events.

Elements Festival 2021 was held on the Sunshine Coast just before Christmas, and organisers have told the Sunshine Coast Daily they are yet to receive any contact from Queensland Health, despite widespread publicity on social media about an outbreak.

“We have not received any communications or advice from QLD Health or contact tracers since the event,” a festival spokesperson told the newspaper.

Organisers were in “constant” contact with Queensland Health in the lead-up to the event, to ensure their COVID-safe plan met the criteria for new mandates introduced on December 17th.

“The event could not operate without an approved COVID plan, which was implemented in full, and the consent of multiple authorities (including council and emergency services),” the spokesperson said.

“Elements have safely produced two other festivals during COVID with no resulting outbreak, so we felt confident to go ahead with this edition.”

The event, which ran from December 17th to the 19th, was the first to go ahead since Queensland’s borders re-opened, and allegedly “came under fire” (as per the Sunshine Coast Daily) for allowing unvaccinated people through the gates before the state’s new vaccine mandate came into effect.

The festival organisers said they would be reviewing their procedures, but that the festival alone should not be blamed for COVID cases amongst patrons.

“We feel this outcome is the consequence of multiple contributing factors from a failure to closely monitor borders, to the arrival of the highly infectious Omicron variant in Australia and, potentially, the current model of COVID-safe plans for events not adequately addressing the risk amongst a multitude of other factors,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ll be looking at everything, including whether we need to implement a COVID plan that is above and beyond the current requirements at future events, to ensure we can minimise the risk as much as possible.”

According to social media posts, one person knew “at least 15 people” who had tested positive to COVID after Elements Festival 2021, including two who were “very sick in hospital”.

Those who entered on the first day of the festival were not required to show their vaccination status, as the state’s vaccination mandates only came into effect on the second day of the event.

Organisers said they were using ticket purchases for contact tracing, as app-based QR code check-ins were impossible due to there being no Wi-Fi at the venue.

The event was listed as a close contact event by Queensland Health on Christmas Day.

Festival organisers used their Facebook page to alert attendees.

From December 31st, the state government will only notify of major outbreak venues or super-spreader events in the state, “as transmission is now widespread throughout metropolitan, regional and remote Queensland”.

At the time of writing, there are “no major outbreak venues or super-spreader events” listed in Queensland.

This is despite dozens of posts appearing on social media in recent days about people testing positive after attending Wildlands Festival in Brisbane on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th December.

“I did say I want to be positive this year,” one TikTok user captioned their video.

“Thanks Wildlands,” wrote several more.

“POSITIVE vibes only… Wildlands did us dirty,” posted another.

The news comes as multiple events are cancelled due to ever-changing restrictions across the country.

Wildlands reps have not responded to The Industry Observer‘s requests for comment.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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