Despite almost every major event on the isle of Wight being cancelled for 2020, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced yesterday morning (Friday) that The Great Wonderfest at Duxmore Farm will go ahead on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
However, the Isle of Wight Council says that official support is unable to be given at this time due to the current government guidelines. The council also says that the Island should continue to ensure that measures are taken to prevent the spread of infection.
Yesterday’s news that the festival will go ahead with 3m x 3m ‘pens’ has been met with mixed reaction. However, it has drawn support from Bob Seely MP and Councillor Wayne Whittle.
An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson has said:
“The authority has been working with all event organisers following the COVID-19 restrictions. The organisers of the Great Wonderfest recently submitted new proposals for their event in August. In response the council advised that the Island’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) would consider these plans prior to any formal licence being applied for, the SAG includes representatives from the Isle of Wight Council, NHS Trust, Police, Fire and other key services.
“The SAG met today (Friday 26 June 2020) and have subsequently advised the organisers that at present they are unable to support the event at the given current government guidelines in relation to mass gatherings and the restriction on live entertainment being performed in front of live audiences, along with the potential impact on key services whilst the current response to COVID-19 remains. Should the guidance and restrictions change then this decision can be revisited.
“The Isle of Wight Council recognises the important role that events play in the visitor economy of the Island. However, whilst working with partners and businesses in the tourism and hospitality on the safe reopening of this sector from 4th July, it is always mindful that this needs to be carefully manged to ensure that we continue the work that has been done to protect the Island and safeguard the community and to ensure that we prevent the spread of infection.”
A spokesperson for The Great Wonderfest has said:
“While we understand that current Government advice prevents the Island’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) from issuing its full support at this time, the Great Wonderfest team are in regular contact with SAG, and remain confident that as lockdown continues to ease and restrictions change, they will be able to revise their position, as they have noted in their statement.
“As public spaces and attractions such as zoos and drive-ins begin to open up, we believe the public will quickly adapt to the social distancing measures that we will all need to adhere to. We feel that there is a real and growing need for this kind of properly structured and strictly managed entertainment offering and have devised a robust plan that works within current social distancing guidelines. Above all we trust our audience to keep themselves, and those around them, safe and to follow the advice and guidance they are given.”