Public Anzac Day services cancelled

By Andrew Johnston

NEW South Wales and Victoria will not hold public Anzac Day services in 2020.

NSW have cancelled all services, while Victorian RSL sub-branches will be asked to conduct a single ceremony in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement to the RSL NSW website, acting state president Ray James said holding events would be “irresponsible.”

“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,” he said.

“This is a recognition of the penalties linked to events over 500 people, and the potential exposure to RSL sub-branches.

“This acknowledges the fact that most Anzac Day events are open to all members of the community and therefore have the potential to attract crowds of over 500 people.

“Anzac Day as a marker of our respect and admiration for Anzacs past and present will still be observed.”

Moama sub-branch president Ken Jones said the club was devastated, but fully accepted the decision.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” he said.

“But we’ve got to remember people’s health comes first.

“We will still do our own things as veterans, we will visit the cenotaph as we always do, but we won’t hold a big gathering.”

Jones said he was glad a decision had been made after the clubs were left unsure of the outcome.

“We spoke Monday morning and said we needed to make a decision. I’m glad they have done so, now we aren’t in limbo.”

Victorian RSL president Robert Webster said his state's decision was not taken lightly.

“Anzac Day 2020 will not look like the Anzac Day that so many of us are used to participating in," he said.

"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. This is not a decision that the RSL takes lightly, but public health and safety must be our priority.”

There will be a single Dawn Service at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance however the public will be asked not to attend.