Australian artists are fuming after footage emerged of people singing and dancing at a Hillsong event as new restrictions ban these activities from taking place in NSW.
Hillsong's Wildlife Summer Camp, which some have pointed out looks similar to a music festival, is a three-day "summer camp" held near Newcastle.
Images and videos from the event, showing teenagers dancing to religious music, have outraged the entertainment industry after restrictions introduced to curb the Covid outbreak prohibit singing and dancing at music festivals, forcing the cancellation of scheduled events.
The camp is expected to run from Wednesday to Saturday.
Wedding and churches exempt from restrictions
The restrictions have forced music festivals across the country to either be cancelled or postponed.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters last Friday singing and dancing would no longer be allowed in indoor venues from last Saturday until January 27.
The Public Health Order states singing and dancing is not allowed at places such as music festivals, hospitality venues, nightclubs, entertainment facilities and major recreation facilities.
However, weddings and churches were exempt from the new restrictions.
Victoria has already reintroduced density limits in hospitality venues and the Northern Territory has a territory-wide lockout for the unvaccinated.
It looks like a music festival, it sounds like a music festival, but @Hillsong says this event is "not similar to a music festival in any way". This 3-day camp allowed, while festivals cancel over @NSWHealth bans on singing & dancing. EXCLUSIVE story on @nbnnews & @9NewsAUS pic.twitter.com/yvQqYRDcRi
— Olivia Grace-Curran (@livgracecurran) January 13, 2022
Artists respond to 'double standard'
Australian rapper Illy took to social media on Wednesday, criticising the government's decision to ban singing and dancing at festivals, but not in churches.
"You can postpone all our festivals and gigs, you can say no dancing in clubs for the next 50 years, and you can make singing and shouting in public illegal except in sermons and the cricket for some reason," he wrote.
We just had to cancel a tour we’ve had planned MONTHS in advance - people lost work. Because everything would have to be seated and divided across sessions to even make possible but THIS can happen?! pic.twitter.com/p9LV3juHCx
— mikaila delgado (@mikailadelgado) January 13, 2022
"FYI I’m for everyone’s religious beliefs. The post is a joke, aimed at the latest horse s*** double standard the music industry is ONCE AGAIN having to face. Not attacking religion at all."
Another musician Montaigne added: "The double standards being shown by the Australian govt around live entertainment events is absolutely buck wild. Takes my breath away."
Others said the same rules should apply to everyone.
"The double standard applied to this Hillsong event vs other indoor or outdoor music festivals makes NO sense at all," one Twitter user wrote.
"You risk a big increase in Covid infections & prolonging this pandemic for all of us. The same rules need to apply to everyone."
Camps involve 'mainly outdoor activities', Hillsong says
Hillsong defended holding the event to the ABC and said it was "not similar to a music festival in any way".
"Our camps involve primarily outdoor recreational activities including sports and games," it said in a statement to the national broadcaster.
"We follow strict Covid procedures and adhere to government guidelines."
A statement from NSW Health said they had requested the religious organisation "stop singing and dancing".
"Singing and dancing at a major recreation facility is a breach of the Public Health Order," it read.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard added: "While the Order does not apply to religious services, it does apply to major recreational facilities and this event is clearly in breach of both the spirit and intent of the Order, which is in place to keep the community safe."
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