TASMANIAN agricultural shows, which are struggling for survival under Covid-19 regulations, are seeking logical steps to bring crowds in line with other states but have been snubbed by government ministers to air concerns.
The shows have again been brushed aside by the Tasmanian Government after key government ministers recently pulled out of a planned meeting with the state’s 23 agricultural show societies.
This year Brighton, Burnie, Launceston, and Circular Head are among shows cancelled because of pressure from Covid regulations.
Last year’s outdoor Agfest fields days were limited to 10,000 people a day putting financial stress on exhibitors and organisers.
In an update last week, Tasmanian Agricultural Shows said a meeting was to go ahead on Saturday but the Government advised that the invited ministers, including the Premier, Deputy Premier and Health Minister could no longer attend, citing pre-occupation with the border reopening.
Tasmanian Agricultural Shows president Scott Gadd said issues needed to be resolved before next year if shows are to survive.
“There’s a great deal of frustration over the complexity and slowness of achieving Covid-safe event status, and inconsistencies in how local events are being treated compared to national events,” Mr Gadd said.
“An AFL match is given a cap of 10,000 people in Tasmania, but the Hobart Show, the Launceston Show, and the Burnie Show are restricted to just 5000 people onsite at any one time.
“The Falls Festival, Launceston’s Festivale and the Hobart Summer Festival are just recent examples of how Tasmania’s health restrictions are regulating local events out of existence.”
Tasmanian event restrictions have been under scrutiny for some time, with many show organisers citing Covid restrictions or the added associated expenses of operating a Covid-safe event as reasons they could not run an event.
Compared to the allowance of other states, Tasmania is lagging, with only seated events over 5000 allowed, despite less than 10 Covid cases in the past year.
Western Australia, whose vaccination rate sits under 70 per cent, has had unrestricted event capacity since June 23, despite almost 100 positive cases in the community.
Queensland passed the 70 per cent vaccine milestone last weekend and has had no density restrictions on outdoor venues since October 8.
New South Wales passed the 90 per cent threshold last week and has been operating outdoor events with no capacity limits since November 8, despite over 1500 new cases in that time.
The ACT reached 95 per cent vaccinations last week and has lifted restrictions on event capacity entirely.
Victoria currently imposes a capacity restriction similar to Tasmania’s, with only 5000 fully vaccinated patrons allowed for outdoor events, although it will remove restrictions, including mandatory masks, at 90 per cent, which is expected by November 24.
A meeting was held between Tasmanian Agricultural Shows and representatives of Communities, Health and State Growth last Friday in lieu of the cancelled meeting, where a commitment to re-assess the Covid Plan process was granted.
It is likely event capacity will be re-addressed after state borders open on December 15.