August 19, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

After being prevented from going ahead at Easter by a last-minute government health order then shifting dates to the October long weekend, the iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest has cancelled its 2021 festival altogether, due to the ongoing Sydney lockdown, which was extended to the whole of regional New South Wales for at least a week last Saturday.

The last minute postponement of the April event cost the Australian economy $181.2 million according to economic impact research by Reuben Lawrence Consulting commissioned by Bluesfest organisers.

“It is obvious that we cannot present Bluesfest in a safe manner in October,” organisers said in a statement announcing the cancellation of the rescheduled October event yesterday and flagging dates for the 2022 festival in its usual timeslot over the Easter long weekend.

Alongside confirmation of dates for 2022, organisers cited confidence that the vaccine thresholds required to open up to phase three of the Federal Government’s plan to live with COVID-19 will be met this year and “lockdowns will be consigned to history” by the time the festival rolls around in 35 weeks’ time. They also expressed hope that international artists may be able to travel to Australia for the festival by then.

However, with cases in NSW hitting record highs this week – largely driven by the outbreak in Sydney, with help from outbreaks in a couple of regional areas – it should be noted that path to reopening is predicated in the Doherty report – which set the thresholds – on also having low case numbers and that thresholds are not actually ruled out in either phase two or three of the Government’s plan, they simply become less likely.