Agfest Field Days
Posted on 24 April, 2021
The fairness of Tasmania’s COVID rules for outdoor events has been questioned by Rural Youth Tasmania after the Tasmanian Health Department refused to increase the cap on attendee numbers at Agfest from 10,000 to 15,000 people per day.
While more than 800,000 people (66,000 per day) attended the 12-day Royal Sydney Show this month and more than 85,000 people prepare to attend this Sunday’s AFL clash at the MCG – sitting in a grandstand area of less than 10 acres – the Tasmanian Health Department has refused repeated requests for 15,000 people per day to attend the field days held at the 229-acre Quercus Park site.
Agfest Chairman Ethan Williams said he was informed Friday afternoon that Public Health had decided not to budge on the 10,000 cap due to science based evidence.
“Instead, they suggested we use a one-in-one-out or two session attendance option, both of which we considered during initial planning in 2020 but discarded because they were not workable,” Mr Williams said. “We have said from day one the current approved plan is the only feasible structure we can deliver on, especially considering all tickets have now been sold.
“How do I ring thousands of people who paid for a full-day ticket to tell them they now have to leave at lunch time, or tell exhibitors they will lose at least an hour of potential sales time while we close the site to reopen it for an afternoon session?
“This is the most ridiculous situation where Tasmanian businesses, people and the economy are being penalised by health officials who admit they have never attended Agfest.”
Many Australian states have now removed caps on numbers at agricultural shows and field days, instead ruling that one person per every two square metres can attend. On this basis, more than 40,000 people could attend Agfest each day, which is being staged at Quercus Park near Carrick from 5 – 8 May and in the cloud from 8 – 15 May.
The remaining thousands of tickets were posted online at 7pm Thursday night (22 April) and sold out within minutes, leaving thousands of Tasmanians irate.
“The Agfest gates open in 11 days, we have an approved COVID plan, every exhibitor has an approved COVID plan, we have two contact tracing systems in place, it’s been 256 days since Tasmania’s last locally acquired case and based on what is approved in other states, we could have more than 40,000 people on site each day,” Mr Williams said.
“But we are being responsible and only asking for 15,000 attendees per day to ensure people can remain socially distanced and Tasmania can maintain its outstanding record on controlling the spread of COVID-19.
“We are extremely disappointed that Tasmania’s Public Health officials have not followed the example of other states, many of whom have had far more active cases of COVID-19 than Tasmania.
“We are a group of young Tasmanian volunteers, passionate about delivering a compliant, safe and successful event to stimulate the Tasmanian economy, and we are devastated that we are being denied the same opportunity as our interstate counterparts to deliver an event that makes a real difference.
“Some exhibitors fear they won’t break even, leaving their attendance at future events in doubt. As Agfest injects more than $25 million into the Tasmanian economy each year, this could be a major hit for small, medium and large sized businesses, as well as the entire State.
“Let’s hope that common sense prevails and that the Tasmanian Public Health Department overturns this decision by Monday evening so all Agfest exhibitors can obtain more stock and employ more staff to deliver the Agfest field day magic that we all love and expect, and help stimulate the Tasmanian economy.”