ANZAC Day services have been cancelled across Australia
ANZAC Day services have been cancelled in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania after the federal government banned mass gatherings in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The decision was made by the Returned and Services League of Australia NSW branch, announcing that all public ANZAC Day services across the state on Monday will be cancelled.
“The risk to vulnerable people during the current health situation is simply too high for these events to continue in their traditional format,” read a statement.
“Given the significant concerns around the spread of COVID-19, it would be irresponsible to allow such large gatherings as we see each year on ANZAC Day to go ahead. This is not a decision we have taken lightly.
“The RSL has a responsibility to act in the best interests of veterans and the general public. In these uncertain times, we must follow the advice of medical experts and do everything we can to protect the community.”
Some of the events cancelled include the Melbourne City March, with RSL Victoria confirming the state will host one dawn service at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance, however, the public will not be allowed to attend.
"The Dawn Service at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance will be conducted with a small number of official guests and modified to minimize COVID19 risk," RSL Victoria updated on Monday.
"The ANZAC Day march through Melbourne’s CBD and midday service at the Shrine of Remembrance is cancelled. RSL Sub-Branches across Victoria will also be asked to conduct a single ANZAC Day commemorative service only. The public will also be asked not to attend these services."
“ANZAC Day 2020 will not look like the ANZAC Day that so many of us are used to participating in. But there will be a service, wreaths will be laid, the last post will still be played, a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen will be held but the public will be asked to stay at home," RSL Victoria President Robert Webster said.
"This is not a decision that the RSL takes lightly, but public health and safety must be our priority."
RSL Queensland has also advised its Sub Branches to cancel ANZAC Day commemorations.
“Our older veterans are particularly at risk from this virus, so we believe this is the responsible thing to do to ensure their health and wellbeing,” QLD Branch President Tony Ferris said.
“ANZAC Day is an opportunity for Australians to remember all those who have served and sacrificed, and we are pleased that so many Queenslanders recognise its significance more than a century after it was first commemorated,” he said.