Australia’s top doctor reportedly said large gatherings including concerts are “out of the question” until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, casting a gloomy prognosis for the return of music festivals there. And seemingly elsewhere. 

The top doctor, Professor Brendan Murphy, suggested that Australia’s guidance banning more than two people from congregating in public could be loosened to let families and friends spend time together. Community sports and shopping are also being considered, but music festivals are not. 

“We certainly would not be contemplating large-scale gatherings,”

Murphy recently told the Senate select committee watching the government’s response to COVID-19, according to the Daily Mail. “But certainly some relaxation of the size of small groups is possible.

According to ABC, Murphy also said,

“It’s hard for me to envisage reopening of nightclubs and big music festivals in the foreseeable future. Unless you’re absolutely, completely confident about your borders, your testing, your surveillance,” he continued, “You can’t relax a measure of distancing.”

If what Murphy says comes true, it means Australia’s summer festival season starting around December will be a loss. That includes Electric Gardens and festivals around New Year’s Eve like Beyond The Valley, Lost Paradise and Origin Fields Festival.

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As of Tuesday, Australia had 6,731 coronavirus cases and 84 deaths, according to Worldometer. That’s far fewer than in other countries with big music events including the U.S. (1,022,981 cases) and Spain (232,128).

Festivals In Other Countries

While Australia is its own continent, its timeline for allowing festivals again isn’t unlike what’s been floated in other countries. Earlier this month, the University of Pennsylvania’s Healthcare Transformation Institute Director Zeke Emanuel predicted fall 2021 for the U.S.

“Larger gatherings—conferences, concerts, sporting events—when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility,” Emanuel said, according to The New York Times. “I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

Most festivals in Europe and the U.S. have been canceled through summer. In the U.S., festival enthusiasts are on edge about whether Electric Daisy Carnival and Coachella are actually going to happen. They were already rescheduled from the spring to October. But without a coronavirus vaccine to stop the spread, the future remains very much up in the air.