PREPARATION of a COVID-safe plan was part of the requirements of a permit issued for a two-day music concert held last month at The Briars, Mount Martha.
Mornington Peninsula Shire charged promoters $10,000 for the use of the council-owned property and says it only gave the concert the go ahead after an assessment by the state government.
Held over the 20-21 February weekend to audiences of 8000 each day, the SummerSalt concert was accused of overcrowding and lack of social distancing on social media.
“People bought their tickets and went along … If they were worried about transmission, perhaps it wasn’t a good place to go,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said when responding to presenter Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio.
Trioli had said Cr O’Connor did not “sound as concerned by it as those that attended” who regarded it as “potentially being an event of transmission”.
Cr O’Connor said there had been “COVID plans, there on the ground, absolutely, from both the state and council”.
She said the state government had approved the concert and the shire had issued a permit and “rented out our space”.
The area allocated at The Briars for the concert was “not a small space” and the number of people allowed to attend had been capped.
Mount Martha resident Ken Anderson said he had been “appalled” to see TV news reports of the concert “with ecstatic humans jiving around waving their arms in the air and completely ignoring the social distancing requirements of all public events in Victoria”.
He said the “short sighted people who issue permits for these events” should cancel them and apologise to the people of Mount Martha.
Mr Anderson said he had received a commitment last year that “these events” would no longer be held at The Briars (“Ratepayers playing second fiddle to music concerts” Letters Page 31). A council officer last week wrote to him saying the shire was “trying to strike a balance in activating the site to provide long term financial stability, supporting the recovery of businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. event providers, artists etc), while keeping the site accessible and free to those who love it for what it is”.
Jessica Wingad, the shire’s director of place, said the government’s permit followed “an assessment by the public health advisory panel and Chief Health Officer”.
The area allocated for the concert measured 30,500 square metres.
“Under the state government approval process the organisers were required to prepare a COVID safe events plan and were responsible for adherence to it,” Ms Wingad said.
“We understand staff from the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police were in attendance to assists the organisers.”
The concert at The Briars was part of the national SummerSalt tour being staged by Zaccaria Concerts and Touring and including performances by Emily Wurramara, Montaigne, Boy & Bear, John Butler, The Cat Empire and The Teskey Brothers.
It was the first time Perth-based Zaccaria, which started selling tickets last November, had hired The Briars.
Four hours of Sunday’s show, which sold out, was live-streamed on the internet.
The Briars concert followed a similar event attended by 7000 people in a “COVID-safe environment” (Australian Musician website) one week earlier at Glenelg Beach, Adelaide.
As well as “showcasing the best of home-grown Australian artists” the organisers promoted the concert as providing “cultural attractions, in a family friendly environment, placing a very heavy emphasis on local community and sustainability”.