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‘Heartbreaking’: Royal Adelaide Show cancelled three weeks out

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The Royal Adelaide Show has been cancelled for the second year in a row, with organisers saying a SA Health decision to cap crowds at 10,000 people made it unfeasible to run the iconic event.

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The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA announced the cancellation this morning just three weeks before the Show was scheduled to start, saying the decision was reached with “great sadness”.

In a media release, the Society said it had been advised by SA Health that mass gatherings would be “significantly limited in numbers for the foreseeable future” in light of growing coronavirus outbreaks in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

SA Health had advised the Society that no more than 10,000 people could attend the Show each day – a limit organisers said was “not feasible” given the event normally attracts over 50,000 people per day, with 10,000 alone working or competing.

“As you would appreciate, this figure is not feasible therefore the 2021 Royal Show cannot proceed,” the Society’s media release states.

“It is with great sadness that for the second year running there will be no Royal Adelaide Show.

“In the Society’s 182-year history there have only been five reasons for the Show not being held, namely, the Victorian Gold Rush in 1852, WW1, the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic, WW2 and now the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Show was scheduled to run for nine days, from Saturday September 4 to Sunday September 14.

Organisers said people who had already purchased tickets would be given a full refund, while competition entrants would be advised directly on how to receive a refund on their entry fees.

Those who entered show exhibits will be told how to collect their exhibits, while commercial exhibitors will be contacted directly to work through arrangements.

“As you can appreciate, unravelling Show preparations this close to the scheduled opening of the event is a significant undertaking,” the Society’s media release states.

“The RA&HS cordially asks that all involved in the Show be patient whilst the Society administration methodically works this through.”

Premier Steven Marshall and chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier this morning expressed disappointment at the decision to cancel the Show, saying it was a “difficult” choice and made with “huge regret”.

Marshall told reporters a short time ago that “the conditions that have been put in place really mean that the Royal Adelaide Show will not be going ahead this year”.

“We’re in a difficult situation right around the country at the moment (and) these mass events are extraordinarily difficult,” he said.

“I know there will be so many people that are disappointed that the Royal Adelaide Show will not be going ahead.

“I know that the Show Society has looked at every single opportunity to work with SA Health to create a way that this could go ahead, but unfortunately this year it won’t be.”

Marshall said the decision was reached due to concerns about crowd numbers and the number of attractions such as rides that were coming from interstate.

Spurrier said SA Health had worked closely with the Show Society and considered “all the different ways and possibilities of trying to make this (the Show) safe”.

“I personally feel really disappointed,” she said.

“It’s an iconic activity here in South Australia (and) we love it… but it’s just one of those things.

“It’s really heartbreaking actually.”

According the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA’s media release, the Show attracts on average half a million visitors each year and contributes more than $170 million to the state’s economy.

Today’s announcement follows similar decisions interstate to cancel the Royal Melbourne Show and the Queensland EKKA.

Marshall warns of vaccine delays after Pfizer bookings open to under 40s

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Marshall has urged eligible people aged over 40 to book to get their Pfizer vaccination today, as authorities brace for a surge in demand from those aged between 16 and 39 in metropolitan Adelaide from next week.

The State Government will on Monday open up Pfizer eligibility to younger South Australians, with 127,000 additional slots in its booking system to become available for September and October, ahead of an increase in Pfizer supplies from the Federal Government.

All under 60s will also be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at any state-run clinic from Monday, with SA Health approving a fast-track of second doses so that patients can book a second AstraZeneca appointment eight weeks after their first dose, rather than 12 weeks.

Marshall said today that South Australia would be the first state in the country to open up Pfizer bookings to those aged over 16, despite the Northern Territory and Queensland already doing so.

It’s important for those 40 to 59-year-olds to get on and book their appointment today

Meanwhile the ACT and Tasmania are vaccinating people aged between 30 and 59 with Pfizer.

Marshall warned that opening up Pfizer bookings to those aged under 40 would cause booking delays as South Australia waits to receive more Pfizer supply from the Commonwealth Government in about mid-September.

“We’ve got more Pfizer coming, we’ve got the Moderna vaccine which is coming – we are getting a very significant increase coming to South Australia – but we would expect in the early days the demand will significantly outstrip supply,” he said.

“It’s important for those 40 to 59-year-olds to get on and book their appointment today (because) as of Monday, anybody over the age of 16 can book in for their vaccination.

“Of course there are going to be delays because we do need to wait for additional supplies.”

Spurrier said she had been considering opening up Pfizer vaccinations to people aged 16 to 39 “for some weeks”.

“It’s very clear that we need to have people vaccinated who spread the virus around our community more and when you look at the ages of people and the number of contacts, then the people who have the most contacts are the people who do sit in that young adult – 20s to 40-year-old age group,” she said.

“It’s really critical that we open it up.”

It comes after a specialist Pfizer clinic for disability and aged care workers in Highgate Park opened in “error” to anyone under 40, prompting a surge in bookings from young people eager to receive the vaccine.

Authorities later shut down the booking system and cancelled all appointments for people who were unable to prove that they were an aged care or disability support worker.

But the clinic this morning sent SMS messages to those who booked an appointment, advising them that “the Premier’s announcement today about eligibility means if you are 16-59 your current booking is now CONFIRMED at this clinic”.

Natalie Carfora, 28, received a vaccination at the clinic on Wednesday after booking an appointment on Monday.

She said she found out on Instagram the Highgate Park centre was taking appointments for anyone under 40.

“Everyone I know pretty much that’s under 40 whose had a Pfizer vaccine has gotten it because of a waitlist or an excess that were going to go to waste,” she said.

“It was really easy. I just booked in and then I had sent it to my friends and my partner as well and pretty much everyone I knew who wanted a vaccine, and everyone was able to book in as well very easily.”

Under 40s in South Australia’s regional areas have been eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine since May.

According to latest Federal Government data, 3.88 per cent of South Australians aged 16 to 19 are fully vaccinated, compared to 9.07 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds, 11.73 per cent of 25 to 29-year-olds, 12.49 per cent of 30 to 34-year-olds and 15.15 per cent of 35 to 39-year-olds.

Spurrier said South Australia had administered over one million COVID-19 vaccinations as of yesterday.

The state is expected to start receiving supplies of the recently-approved Moderna vaccine from next month, with between 5900 to 7100 weekly doses expected to be supplied in September, rising to between 36,300 to 43,500 doses from October.

Spurrier “surprised” by Olympic athlete quarantine situation

Spurrier has described a decision to require South Australian Olympians to undertake 28 days of quarantine as “unfortunate”, saying the situation could have been prevented.

It comes after the Australian Olympics Committee lashed out at a “cruel” decision by the State Government to require South Australian Olympians to undergo “double quarantine”, arguing the decision defies medical advice and poses a risk to the mental health of the athletes.

The South Australian Government has rejected AOC appeals to grant a quarantine exemption for the returning Olympians who have already undergone 14 days hotel quarantine in Sydney.

I feel particularly sorry for them (the athletes) because we could have prevented this happening

A group of 16 Olympians from SA are currently quarantining in Sydney after returning to Australia from the Tokyo Olympics.

“I was actually quite surprised that we are in this situation now,” Spurrier said.

“I feel particularly sorry for them (the athletes) because we could have prevented this happening.

“My team let the Australian Olympic Committee know in late July and if we had been able to have flights chartered back through Singapore, back into South Australia then we wouldn’t have been in this situation.”

Premier Steven Marshall defended the decision this morning but said it was a “heartbreaking situation” for the athletes involved.

“We made a change to our rules in South Australia following the Modbury cluster … we can’t have one set of rules for one group of people and a completely different set from for others.”

Marshall said the “vast majority” of the 16 impacted Olympians would be able to undertake their additional 14 days of quarantine at home.

Interstate delta outbreaks stall international student return

The State Government says it is still fine-tuning its plan to quarantine international students at the Parafield Airport’s flight school accommodation, months after it received Commonwealth Government approval.

Marshall said last month that the SA Government intended to welcome back international students as part of a trial in August, despite concerns about the delta variant outbreak in New South Wales.

The trial, which received Commonwealth approval in July, will see up to 160 overseas students at a time quarantine at Parafield Airport before returning to university campuses.

The approval initially hinged on a Commonwealth Government pre-condition that South Australia’s border remained open for domestic travel when the international students arrived.

South Australia’s border is currently shut to all of Australia’s eastern jurisdictions.

“The State Government continues to liaise with the Federal Government on the return of international students to the state, particularly in light of the current health pandemic and domestic border closures,” a government spokesperson told InDaily this morning.

“The Chief Public Health Officer has endorsed the Flight Training Adelaide facility as a suitable quarantine facility for international students and the scope of final works continues to be worked through, in line with SA Health and SAPOL’s requirements.

“The State Government remains committed to welcoming back international students to the state as soon as possible and when it is safe to do so.”

Universities and the students are expected to cover the majority of the quarantine cost, but Marshall said last month that there were “bound to be some incidental costs associated with it (the trial) borne by the taxpayers of South Australia”.

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