TAMWORTH'S entertainment venues would normally be meeting with artists in the lead-up to the country music festival, but in the world of COVID-19, managers took meetings with compliance officers instead.
SafeWork NSW representatives visited local venues earlier this week to make sure strong COVID-safe plans were in place ahead of what would have been the Tamworth Country Music Festival 2021.
Following a slew of businesses pulling the plug on live shows, executive director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy met with members of the entertainment industry on Wednesday afternoon via Zoom.
"We felt there was a need to clarify, we were getting reports that venues were concerned and they were cancelling performances," Mr Dunphy told the Leader.
"That's not based on any advice or intention on our behalf ... we support the events occurring, we just want to make sure the events are safe and successful."
Mr Dunphy confirmed SafeWork NSW, the local liquor accord, Liquor and Gaming NSW, police and industry representatives were involved in Wednesday's meeting.
He said the visits to venues earlier in the week - which led to the meeting - were requested by police.
"NSW Police asked us to assist and it was really because there was a feeling that there would be a lot more people attending venues during the week next week ... and additional events planned," Mr Dunphy said.
"It was not to catch people out but to provide them with the information and assistance to make sure they were ready."
Mr Dunphy said officers found there was a "high-level" of COVID control in Tamworth venues, with advice given on a few "minor" issues.
It was not to catch people out but to provide them with the information and assistance to make sure they were ready.Peter Dunphy, SafeWork NSW
The SafeWork NSW visits have now stopped, but local police will be on the beat.
Wests Entertainment Group was one big player that cancelled its schedule of events for the 'unofficial' country music festival on Tuesday.
CEO Rod Laing said Wednesday's meeting was positive, but didn't change his decision.
"It was not based at all on pressure from SafeWork NSW, it was based on our own intel and our own information and we assessed that risk," he told the Leader.
"You can warn customers and fans that they can't do certain things, but after a couple of beers people just forget."
Several venues have cancelled either their non-ticketed shows or their whole schedule of live events recently, due to COVID-19 rules.
The list includes Wests Entertainment Group, the Longyard Hotel, The Press 2340, The Tamworth Hotel, the Courtyard Hotel, Tamworth Services Club and the Tudor Hotel.
When the Leader went to press on Thursday, there were still performances lined up for the TRECC, Moonshiners, the Square Man Inn, Joe Maguires Pub, the North Tamworth Bowling Club, the Post Office Hotel, and more.
Tickets and a schedule of events can be found at the Destination Tamworth website.