Christmas festival cancelled as COVID-19 restrictions return to South Australia

Major events and sporting fixtures will be cancelled for the next two weeks, Premier Steven Marshall has announced.

Murray Bridge’s riverfront Christmas festival has officially been cancelled in light of the latest COVID-19 restrictions, organisers have announced.

The next two weeks of local sporting fixtures and the annual lighting of the town Christmas tree, scheduled for Friday night, have also been cancelled.

But the pageant and Christmas festival had been expected to draw up to 5000 people to Sturt Reserve on Saturday.

Refunds will be issued to anyone who had purchased a ride pass since Friday.

Organiser Analise Gates said the cancellation was disappointing, given the “enormous” amount of time community members and sponsors had spent planning a self-contained, ticketed event.

But the health and safety of community members had to be organisers’ first priority, she said.

Mayor Brenton Lewis said he understood that local families would be disappointed.

“But we are a resilient lot and as long as we continue to look out for and help take care of each other as a community, we’ll be okay,” he said.

“If everyone does the right thing now, hopefully we will be free to spend time with our loved ones and friends over Christmas and heading into the new year.

“I would ask everyone to follow the health recommendations and stay safe.”

New restrictions announced in response to Adelaide outbreak

On Monday afternoon, health authorities made the call to cancel all events requiring a COVID management plan for the next two weeks.

Other restrictions which have applied since 12.01am on Tuesday include:

  • A cap of 10 people for private gatherings at people’s homes

  • Community sport will be cancelled for the next two weeks

  • Gyms and play cafes will be closed

  • Private gatherings and funerals will be restricted to a limit of 50 people, and church services to 100 people

  • Weddings can continue but guests will need to register their attendence

  • Masks will need to be worn at aged care facilities and salons

Premier Steven Marshall announced the restrictions in response to a COVID-19 outbreak in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

Twenty-three cases had been linked to the cluster by Tuesday afternoon, the first community transmission of the coronavirus in South Australia since April.

Anyone experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 should stay at home and seek testing at the nearest clinic.

Christmas festival organisers had worked hard to adapt

For much of 2020 it had seemed like Murray Bridge’s Christmas festival would not be able to go ahead anyway.

Free passes for Saturday’s festival became available on Friday after SA Health approved a licence for up to 5000 people to attend.

Instead of parading down the main street during the evening, Murray Bridge’s Christmas pageant was to have circled Sturt Reserve from 11am, and been live-streamed on Facebook.

Rides, sideshows, food trucks, more than 50 market stalls and live entertainment were booked for between 10am and 9pm, when a fireworks display was expected to bring the event to a close.

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