Melbourne lockdown extended by one week, RISING Festival officially cancelled

The city will remain under lockdown conditions for at least another seven days, as health officials continue to fight the latest outbreak of community transmission

Melbourne’s current lockdown conditions will remain in place for at least another week, as the city continues to battle an outbreak of COVID-19, with 60 locally-acquired cases.

On May 27, Victoria entered an initial lockdown period of one week in response to new cases of community transmission. Throughout that period, there were only five reasons why Victorians were permitted to leave their homes – for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise (for up to two hours, with one other person) and getting vaccinated.

Those restrictions have now been extended in Melbourne for another week, with some minor changes. Residents will be able to travel further for exercise and shopping purposes, with an expanded 10 kilometre radius (as opposed to the previous five kilometres). Wearing a mask will still be required everywhere outside the home.

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Restrictions will begin to ease in regional Victoria from 11.59pm tomorrow night (June 3), with public gatherings increased to ten people, restaurants and cafes able to reopen to a maximum of 50 patrons, and more.

In a statement today, Acting Premier James Merlino acknowledged that Melbourne was dealing with “a variant of the virus that is quicker and more contagious than we’ve seen before”, with at least one in ten of the current cases catching the virus from a stranger.

“The best way to stop the virus is vaccination. But as we know, with only two per cent of the population fully vaccinated, if we let this thing run then cases will explode. If that happens, it’s our most vulnerable – our parents and grandparents, Victorians with underlying conditions or compromised immunity – who will pay the price.”

Coinciding with the extended lockdown, the Victorian government has announced an additional $209.3million in support for small and medium-sized businesses, building on the $250.7million support package announced last Sunday.

In light of Melbourne’s extended lockdown period, boutique festival RISING has officially cancelled the remainder of its inaugural 2021 program.

After launching on May 26, the festival cancelled all but its final three days last week, with the lockdown covering the majority of its runtime. Given the new extension, organisers were left with no choice but to cancel the entire program.

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“While the situation has been moving rapidly, as previously stated, the festival will continue to explore ways that audiences may be able to experience 2021 RISING activity into the future,” a statement from the festival read.

The festival also shared a joint statement from Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek, its artistic co-directors.

“Created by literally hundreds of artists, most of the shows and events for the festival were made during previous lockdowns or heavy restrictions,” they said.

“While this current outcome is not unexpected, we are devastated by how this present COVID outbreak and lockdown has impacted the thousands of people working on our festival and the many hundreds of thousands of people unable to attend.”

“Our commitment to artists and audiences however remains adamant and with continued resilience we look forward to a future when they can come together again.”

RISING was initially announced back in May 2020, serving as a replacement event for the Melbourne International Arts and White Night festivals. Among those scheduled to perform at the festival were Julia Jacklin, Party Dozen and The Goon Sax.

The festival is one of many Victorian music events that have been cancelled or postponed amid the new outbreak.

Yesterday, New Zealand indie rockers The Beths rescheduled their Australian tour dates to November as a result. Earlier in the week, Thelma Plum announced rescheduled dates for her long-delayed ‘Homecoming Queen’ tour.

Additional reporting by Alex Gallagher

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