While there are concerns that large events and gatherings can “super spread” Covid-19, the hosts of the Rage Festival 2020 say they have taken measures to mitigate the virus spreading.
Greg Walsh, the CEO of G&G Productions who hosts the festival countrywide, said that the events industry was unfairly targeted during the pandemic while other industries continued to work.
“The events sector is the only sector in SA who [sic] has not been afforded the opportunity for ‘self-regulation’. All other sectors have been returned to business with the responsibility placed on the business owner who may decide to trade or not and onto whose shoulders the responsibility to comply sits,” he said on Friday as Rage kicked off in Umhlanga and Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal.
He said that while other industries had just a few regulations to work through during Covid-19, the events industry had a plethora of red tape to comply with.
“The events by contrast needs 22 different approvals before they may proceed – by the very nature of this cumbersome approval process, any event taking place in SA at the moment is likely a better thought out and safer environment than any mall, retail shop or other consumer facing business – most of whom have little in place other than ‘wear a mask’ and a bottle of sanitizer at the door.”
Other Rage events include the Johannesburg leg on 12 and 13 December with Jeffrey’s Bay on 15 to 22 December. The Plett Festival has been moved to 29 January.
Income loss as great as Covid-19 crisis
Walsh said the industry had suffered greatly, going as far as saying they were in a crisis as dire as Covid-19, which has claimed over 20 000 SA lives thus far and infected over 750 000.
“The events industry in SA stats look as follows… of those employed in February, 92% currently receive R0.00 each month. This should be viewed as a crisis at the same level as Covid-19.”
He said they had resolved to host Rage despite Covid-19 because matrics would make their way to the coast either way, claiming some matriculants booked their own coastal pilgrimage up to 18 months in advance.
“We have a significant responsibility and duty of care to create an environment for them that is safe, controlled and Covid-19 protocol compliant. If we do not, they will end up queueing outside bars and restaurants who will not be prepared to cater to the challenges faced.”
“We by contrast have 20 years of experience and a reputation for hosting an extremely safe and controlled event at a world class standard and this year is no different in our commitment to all stakeholders.”
How exactly will Rage cope with Covid-19 regulations?
Walsh said they would not hesitate to kick out those who did not comply with regulations.
“Of course, immediately. We are here with all stakeholders to ensure absolute compliance.”
He said that numbers were significantly lower with a 50% to 70% attendance. He did not give exact numbers as requested.
“In addition, Rage 2020 comprises a number of seated events. There are no standing dancefloors and all tables are spaced at 2.5m or more from one another to create a socially distanced, high airflow environment.”
Commenting on larger activities during Rage, Walsh said there were multiple, separated event sites with restricted gatherings of no more than 500 outdoors, 250 indoors, or a maximum of 50% of the venue’s capacity if it is less than the numbers above
“All venues are seated environments, think similar to a distributed October Fest, but with a lot more space between the tables and limits of 10 per table. Masks worn at all times unless eating or drinking and seated.”
It was previously reported 63 people, including 37 students tested positive for Covid-19 after attending an event at Tin Roof, a popular bar in Claremont, Cape Town.
Premier Alan Winde has called for an investigation into the matter.