Anzac Day to go ahead ‘as normal’

Around the country, Australians will be encouraged to once again ‘Light Up The Dawn’, but one state has announced the day will be back to “normal”.

Queenslanders will be able to mark Anzac Day “like normal” in 2021, with the Premier announcing Dawn Services, marches and public commemorations can all go ahead this April.

Last year, COVID-19 restrictions resulted in nationwide cancellations of the April 25 services, with Australians standing in their driveways with lit candles at dawn instead to pay their respects.

But Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday that services will resume as normal in 2021.

“In times of strife, Queenslanders do what it takes to protect each other,” she wrote.

“We’ve done it in wartime, and we’re doing it now through the global pandemic.

“Because we’ve worked together to keep safe, this year we can safely gather to mark the sacrifices of those who have served.”

She confirmed there would be no caps on numbers, and urged Queenslanders to “turn out in full force” to show their appreciation for the men and women who have served.

“This is going to mean a lot to families and to veterans,” she said.

RSL Queensland State President Tony Ferris said the organisation had been determined that COVID-19 would not stand between veterans and the “grateful community they served.”

“The RSL is overjoyed with the news … This is a great day for Queensland,” he said.

“From my perspective, it’s going to be bigger than it ever has been before.

“While every organisation is required to observe Queensland Health guidelines on social distancing and contact tracing, we are planning two complementary commemorative approaches which will be COVID-safe.

“Firstly we are working with our network of 230 subbranches to establish local community commemorations, where these can be safely conducted.

“Second, by popular demand, we will once again enable Queenslanders to show their support through the continuation of the Light Up The Dawn.”

Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said while Queensland had 270 active cases last Anzac Day, the state had just seven on Tuesday, all in hotel quarantine.

“That’s why we can move forward, quite rapidly to normal,” she said.

“We can go ahead with Anzac Day no matter where we’re up to with the vaccine rollout. There will also be no requirement for masks.

‘We know the risk of COVID-19 spreading outdoors is very, very, very low.”

Meanwhile in New South Wales, Anzac Day marches and all other commemoration services can go ahead, albeit scaled down, across the state.

In a statement, RSL NSW said they were working with the state government to increase the number of veterans able to participate in the Sydney CBD march, which will be balloted and limited to 500 participants.

Earlier this month, RSL Victoria called off the Anzac Day march in Melbourne, with other commemorations to be scaled back.

RSL Victoria Chief Executive Jamie Twidale told 3AW current restrictions meant it would be too hard to have the march go ahead.

“We understand though a lot of veterans will be very disappointed, the commemoration will still happen, we will still be having a Dawn Service,” he said.

“They’ll just be a little bit more modest than in previous years.”

RSL Tasmania last week announced the Hobart parade would not proceed, but the dawn service and wreath-laying would proceed at the city’s Cenotaph.

RSL Western Australia said traditional commemorations will go ahead with a Dawn Service at the State War Memoria, a parade through Perth CBD and a commemorative service.

Anzac Day commemorations will still take place at the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra.


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