A decision has been made to not hold mass gatherings and large-scale events involving visitors from outside the region in the next few months, Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Greg Conkey OAM said today.
This will impact the Wagga Mardi Gras which will not go ahead this weekend, and could mean the Canberra Raiders’ NRL match in Wagga next month could be cancelled or
conducted without an audience. This decision was made after consultation with local health district clinician experts and senior management, as a means of slowing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19); so those affected, especially the vulnerable, will continue to have access to the best care possible.
Wagga Wagga Mayor Cr Greg Conkey said the decision was extremely disappointing but was taken as a precaution in relation to the management of Coronavirus.
“This decision was made after extensive consultation with the event organiser, local health professionals and other relevant agencies today,” Cr Conkey said.
“Coronavirus is a highly transmissible disease and our advice at this time is to limit exposure at large scale events which will attract many people.
“I want to thank Mardi Gras organiser Holly Conroy for her understanding. It was not an easy decision to make and we appreciate Holly’s support.”
Ms Conroy said the decision to cancel the event was disappointing but it had been made in the best interests of the community.
“We listened to the advice of health officials. We know this is a precautionary measure in the current situation,” Ms Conroy said.
“We are positive about the long-term future of this event, and tonight we want to celebrate our diversity at our show which is still going ahead at Que Bar.
“Tonight will be our Wagga Mardi Gras. If people are disappointed Mardi Gras is not going ahead then come along and support the show.”
Cr Conkey said cancelling Mardi Gras was not a reason for community members to panic about Coronavirus.
“We are acting on the best advice of local health specialists … and that advice is to limit possible exposure to Coronavirus,” Cr Conkey said.
“I stress this is a precautionary measure in the current circumstances.” Cr Conkey said a decision on future events would be made on a case-by-case basis.
“Council staff will be in contact with event organisers and assessing which events this may also have an impact,” Cr Conkey said.
He said Council staff will be speaking with NRL and Canberra Raiders officials in regards to next month’s game in Wagga Wagga. Discussions will also be held with organisers of
other events such as the Food & Wine Festival, and ANZAC Day. Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr MP said he supported Council’s decision to not hold large-scale events.
This decision was not made lightly and was deeply disappointing for those involved and the community at-large, he said.
“This decision has been made based on advice from our local health officer, following several meetings with council, service representatives and event organisers,” Dr McGirr
said. “We know COVID-19 is highly transmissible and so we need to consider the risks associated with large-scale events like the Wagga Mardi Gras this weekend and others in
the near future.
“This is not a call for panic. This is a call for common sense. We know the virus is spreading and we need to limit this as much as possible, so the burden on our health
system is manageable. “While for most people, the impact of the virus may be minor – and that is important to note – it is highly transmissible and mass gatherings could increase the risk of its rapid spread across Wagga Wagga. We need to mitigate these risks.”
Media release: Wagga City Council