Anzac Day marches will go ahead in Melbourne despite Covid fears, but services overseas have been canned.
RSL Victoria has backflipped on its plan to cancel annual marches across the state on April 25 following talks with government officials.
The veteran service organisation said the initial decision was made in the interests of public health, but had a change of heart after public uproar.
It said the march will be socially distanced and ‘as close to normal as possible’, but Anzacs and other Australians overseas will be forced to stay home.
Veterans parade through the streets of Melbourne on April 25, 2019, after thousands of people attended the Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester said the annual dawn service on the WWI battleground in Turkey could not go ahead, based on health advice.
‘Obviously it’s disappointing for a couple of main reasons – one is because it means that the conditions on the ground in Turkey are not of a level where people could feel safe gathering in large numbers,’ he said.
‘So for the resident populations, the host populations, that’s very sad to know that the pandemic is still causing enormous problems there.’
Turkey has almost 99,000 active cases of Covid-19, with 28,503 deaths in total.
Mr Chester urged Australians living overseas to pay their respects from the safety of their homes.
Kiwis also fear their Anzac Day march in Auckland could be cancelled, as Jacinda Ardern announced a snap lockdown in the city due to a single case of Covid.
Pictured: Members of Australia’s armed forces perform during a ceremony at the Lone Pine Cemetery, in Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey
RSL Victoria has backflipped on its plan to cancel annual marches across the state on April 25 following talks with government officials
If the Auckland march is cancelled this year, it will be the third consecutive year that all regions in New Zealand’s largest city have not commemorated Anzac Day.
The 2019 march was cancelled over fears of a terrorist attack after the Christchurch mosque shooting, and the event in 2020 could not take place due to Covid-19.
On Sunday evening it was confirmed that the one case in Auckland is linked to the highly-infectious UK strain, prompting fresh fears the lockdown could last longer the the initial seven days.
Angry Kiwis took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
‘Better not cancel ANZAC Day for the third time,’ one person wrote.
‘Third ANZAC Day,’ another wrote, adding a despair emoji.
Others said their ancestors ‘didn’t fight’ for their country to be locked down.
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced Auckland will go into lockdown for one week, after just one new local case of Covid-19
Marches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are set to go ahead, but the event in Hobart will be scrapped.
‘You do have situations where there’s narrower streets people have to go through … to have people 1.5 metres apart, it would extend the march for a great length of time and it would be very hard to police,’ RSL Tasmania president Robert Dick said.
‘We’re disappointed, however the safety of our veterans and the public is foremost in our minds.’
This is despite Tasmania not having a single community case of coronavirus since the end of Australia’s first wave in mid-2020.
Marches in Canberra, Perth, Darwin, and Adelaide are yet to be confirmed.
About 300,000 doses of the AstraZenaca version landed in Sydney on Sunday.
Scott Morrison has announced a Covid-19 milestone, as 300,000 doses of the AstraZenaca version land in Sydney on Sunday
The Therapeutic Goods Administration will do batch test on the vaccines to ensure they meet Australia’s strict quality standards.
‘This is the next step as we ramp up the vaccine rollout,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Most Australians will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rollout due to commence from March 8, subject to the TGA’s testing process.
‘Australia is in a unique position because importantly this vaccine gives us the ability to manufacture onshore’ Mr Morrison said.
‘Every Australian who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to receive a vaccine this year.’
Australia started its vaccine program last week with the first injections of the Pfizer vaccine.
Almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated since last Monday, including 8110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.