Australia’s Top Medical Officer Says Music Festivals May Not Return Until 2022

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Photo Credit: Matty Adame

Top medical officials in Australia say live events are off the table until 2021, at least. That’s in stark contrast to the U.S. governor of Missouri, who opened the state for live events this week.

Medical experts in Australia warn that music festivals may not return until 2022 or later. The large gap in return could cause many smaller, niche festivals to die out. Festivals are often run show-to-show, and two years without revenue would kill them. Health experts say a vaccine could be delivered by mid-2021 at the earliest.

Music festivals will be the last of various tiers of public gatherings returning to Australia. That means organizers will be unlikely to get approval to host any live events before a vaccine is introduced. Medical authorities have also been reluctant to lift travel bans. That means international talent would continue to struggle to enter the country – especially from countries hardest hit.

The producer of Splendour in the Grass and Lost Paradise says there’s no chance of survival for his festivals in Australia.

Even worse, Hayden Johnston says the COVID-19 crisis could signal the end of his career as a festival producer. “I have to provide for my family,” he says. “The longer the hiatus, the less likely it is the industry will bounce back to its former grandeur.”

Large festivals with financial backers are expected to weather the storm – even if it lasts through 2023.

But smaller festivals may struggle to stay afloat over the extended period with no way to generate income. Meanwhile, international acts aren’t taking bookings for the rest of 2020. Singers like Taylor SwiftBTSJustin Bieber, and The Eagles have altogether canceled their 2020 tours. Most festival organizers within Australia are looking at line-ups featuring local artists only.

The Australian national cabinet is meeting this Friday to begin discussions on easing lockdowns. Australia currently has 6,847 coronavirus cases, with 97 deaths.