A glaring double standard for the live music industry and Christian bands to stage live performances has been defended by NSW Health.
The department on Friday announced restrictions would be reintroduced across the state as cases of the new Omicron variant continue to rapidly multiply.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said singing and dancing would be banned at nightclubs, pubs, bars, and entertainment facilities until January 27.
This was a huge blow to musicians who finally gained some momentum after months of lockdowns and tough restrictions on their industry.
A glaring double standard for the live music industry and Christian bands to stage live performances has been defended by the NSW Health department (pictured, revellers at the Field Day festival held at the Domain in Sydney on New Year’s Day)
A Hillsong service, led by state leader Nathanael Wood, (centre) was followed by an impassioned performance from chart-topping Christian rock band Hillsong Worship
Those attending a wedding or an event immediately following a ceremony are exempt from the rules, as well as performers, or people being instructed.
But the exemption also applies to places of worship with megachurch Hillsong live-streaming a spirited service from the Hills Convention Centre, 35km northwest of Sydney’s CBD, on Sunday.
The service, led by state leader Nathanael Wood, was followed by an impassioned performance from chart-topping Christian rock band Hillsong Worship.
In a rendition of the band’s hit song That’s The Power, hundreds of masked worshippers are seen swaying and belting out hymns while stretching their hands towards the sky.
Hillsong North Shore is preparing to hold its first in-person services of the year this weekend at entertainment venue The Concourse in Chatswood.
‘You and your family’s health and well-being remain of paramount importance to us,’ a post on the Hillsong North Shore Instagram page read.
‘Hillsong Church will be operating in accordance with NSW Government guidelines and our Covid safety plan.’
In a rendition of the band’s hit song That’s The Power masked revellers are seen swaying and belting out hymns while stretching their hands towards the sky (pictured)
When asked why church services were exempt from the restrictions, NSW Health defended the double standard.
‘People attending religious services generally remain in fixed positions and masks are mandatory for these indoor gatherings,’ a statement read.
Comparatively, a department spokesperson said singing and dancing in nightclubs and hospitality venues was high-risk due to the ‘increased movement’.
They said the ban came down to the increased mingling within and across these venues, the influence of alcohol consumption, and the removal of masks in these settings to consume food and drink.
Outdoor events were originally excluded from the public health order but late on Tuesday NSW Health announced the amendment had been expanded, forcing dozens of festivals and other events to be cancelled.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant on Monday evening approved an amendment to the Public Health Act, which came into effect on Tuesday.
Outdoor events were originally excluded from the public health order but late on Tuesday NSW Health announced the amendment had been expanded (pictured, Field Day attendees)
A explanatory note attached to the amendment explained the order was ‘to prohibit singing and dancing by persons attending music festivals’.
Dr Chant explained the decision by saying the virus spread easier on the dance floor compared to when people were sitting down, as people moved around and interacted with many others.
The Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley was set to feature major Australian acts including Peking Duk, The Veronicas and San Cisco but now more than 16,000 tickets will need to be refunded.
Heartbroken organisers said the forced cancelation would cost the hard-hit tourism hotspot about $5.2 million in lost revenue, as well as 1,400 jobs.
Meanwhile, a major summer music festival has been forced to cancel just a week out after the shock decision to ban singing and dancing at outdoor events (pictured, Field Day attendees)
A statement posted to Grapevine Gathering Instagram page said the festival did all it could to comply with the rules.
‘We are deeply sorry this news come at the final hour. We understand many of you have had travel plants and arrangements locked in for some time,’ organisers said.
‘This is a devastating blow not only to the live music industry. But also to regional tourism. A projected loss of over $5.2 million to the greater Hunter Valley region is expected from this cancellation.
‘Over 1400 jobs are now lost across our artists, food vendors, security, production, crew ticketing staff and more who were deep in preparation for the weekend.’