Lest we gather

The Kings Park ANZAC Day Dawn Service will have a different look and feel when it takes place on Sunday at the State War Memorial.

Despite restrictions being lifted for outdoor events last week, the dawn service is capped at 10,000 people and is now a ticketed event.

RSL clubs around the state have struggled to organise ANZAC Day events, due to a lack of money and the resources needed to comply with COVID safe plans.

Rockingham and Belmont RSL’s had to cancel their services due to the paperwork required, which they see as unrealistic for clubs run by volunteers.

More than 54,000 fans were allowed to attend last Friday night’s AFL match between West Coast and Collingwood at Optus Stadium.

Belmont RSL president Alan Richardson says there is no comparison between a football match at Optus Stadium and a local dawn service.

Alan Richardson discusses the lack of government support.

He suggests the Health Department could put a two-hour amnesty in place to let these services go ahead.

“The government is not strong enough, I believe, to stand up to say to the Health Department, we needed to have a two hour or three-hour amnesty type of thing,” he says.

“There’s no reason why the health department can look at this with reality. It’s not apples to apples. This is different.

“The requirements of the football stadium is the chalk and the poor old ANZAC Day services is the cheese.”

The public discusses ANZAC Day dawn service restrictions.

The state government has not yet budged on its decision to restrict ANZAC day service attendance, despite the cancellation of some events.

Premier Mark McGowan told The Geraldton Guardian: “It’s very unfortunate. We are still in a world that has COVID and we do need to follow the medical advice.

“And that medical advice is clear there needs to be some rules around it [Anzac Day].”

AMA WA president Andrew Miller says health professionals appreciate the significance of ANZAC Day, but health concerns must come first.

“From a health perspective, the greatest honour we can afford our veterans is to conduct these ceremonies safely,” he says.

For Mr Richardson it is not logistically or economically viable to organise the service.

“If you’re over 500 [people], you need an eight page document to be put in, which asks you to spell out who will be your COVID marshals, your fencing, who is going to control the marshals and what are their roles,” he says.

“It just shows you how out of depth the health officials are from accepting and acknowledging what is to take place.”

Categories: Community, COVID-19

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