ANZAC Day Services 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.
Returned and Services League of Australia NSW branch made the decision to cancel all public ANZAC Day services across the state on Monday.
"The risk to vulnerable people during the current health situation is simply too high for these events to continue in their traditional format," a statement read.
"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."
Melbourne City March Cancelled
RSL Victoria confirmed the state will host one dawn service at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance, however, the public will not be permitted 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 minutes 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."
Queensland Considering ANZAC Day Without Veterans
RSL Queensland is advising 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.
He said RSL Queensland was considering options for commemorating the anniversary without placing veterans and the general public at risk.
“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.
WA Considers Social-Media Commemoration
Earlier, RSL WA chief executive John McCourt told ABC radio plans were underway for some sort of commemoration for April 25 using social media and live streaming.
RSL-held services and subsequent marches have also been called off in Tasmania.
Young, Healthy Aussies Have Huge Role To Play In Stopping Spread Of Coronavirus
Healthy young people have a social responsibility to do their part not to spread coronavirus to the vulnerable and elderly, experts have warned, adding that habit changes are necessary to stop the infectious disease.
"It was a tough decision because a lot of the sub-branches would have been organising these events from February onwards," State President Robert Dick told AAP.
"A lot of preparation work has already been done. But I emphasise the fact that public safety and wellbeing is more important."
Dick said many older veterans fall in the group most at-risk from coronavirus.
"The consequences could be devastating and we don't want to put people in that position," he said.
"We're asking people in their own private way to pay respects to our serving and ex-service members.
"Even if it's like on Remembrance Day, where you take a moment around 11 o'clock to pause and reflect on those who have gone before."
More to come.