Big clue on when music festivals will come back to Byron Bay
When will major music festivals return to the Byron Shire?
Besides the basic restrictions imposed by health orders in NSW and the risk of contagion within a festival environment, there is the issue of at what point having a festival is a viable business option.
With so many Northern NSW residents missing out on jobs, directly or indirectly connected to such events, the issue of music festivals is an important financial issue for the area.
So where are we at with the festivals for 2021?
Last year, American acts Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler the Creator were announced as headliners for a 2021 Splendour in the Grass event for July 23 to 25.
Bluesfest also cancelled in 2020. For this year, the festival has confirmed an all-Aussie line up for April 1 to 5.
A spokesperson for Liquor and Gaming NSW said there were no liquor licensing applications requested so far this year for Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass or Falls Festival.
"To date (January 14), Liquor & Gaming NSW has not received any liquor licensing applications for Bluesfest Byron Bay 2021, Splendour in the Grass 2021 or Falls Festival 2021," the spokesperson said.
"Splendour in the Grass 2021 and Falls Festival 2021 have also not to date submitted a Safety Management Plan for their events.
"Bluesfest Byron Bay 2021 is not required to submit a Safety Management Plan under the Music Festivals Act 2019."
The Liquor and Gaming NSW spokesperson explained that public health orders determined whether events such as musical festivals go ahead at any specified date.
"Any changes to public health orders are a matter for NSW Health," the person said.
Under the current NSW public health orders, events held outside of Greater Sydney can have a maximum of 5000 people, where attendees are assigned to a specific seat, and 3000 people are allocated to a designated seating area.
Those events are also restricted to five hours, and audience members should remain seated throughout the event, where practical.
Dance floors are not allowed.
A controlled outdoor gathering is also required to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan that addresses physical distancing, hygiene, wellbeing and record keeping.
And then there is the issue of camping, an option many take to minimise expenses.
The COVID-19 safety guidance for large festivals recommends organisers minimise events that encourage or provide onsite overnight accommodation, particularly those with shared facilities - such as bathrooms and kitchens - and additional social events.
These arrangements may significantly increase the risk of transmission.