The Australian government today announced that all Australian-led overseas Anzac Day services have been cancelled for 2020 because of COVID-19.
This follows the announcement that almost all official domestic commemorative ANZAC Day services and parades have also been cancelled.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the decision to cancel these services was made in close consultation with health authorities and with host nations, taking into account their response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Anzac Day is one of the most important days on the national calendar, but expert advice within Australia and internationally that large public gatherings present an unacceptable risk to the community can not be ignored,” Mr Chester said.
“This decision has not been made lightly and has taken into consideration a number of key factors, primarily concerns about the welfare of Australians and other visitors travelling to Anzac Day services as well as views of host nations regarding visitors and large gatherings, the impact on health systems of overseas nations, and the welfare of staff and contractors travelling overseas.
“Domestically, many of the services around the country have been cancelled and the Australian War Memorial is planning to broadcast the national Dawn Service to support individual reflection on this important day, however, this service will not be open to the public.
“I understand the last time smaller or limited capacity Anzac Day services were held was in 1942 due to the threat Australia faced during the Second World War.
“This was also the first year a commemorative service was held at the Australian War Memorial, albeit quite small, and this will continue in 2020.
“Yesterday I spoke with state and territory veterans ministers, and while many of the domestic services are not open to the public we will be exploring opportunities to ensure all Australians have the opportunity to pay their respects and reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans.
“Governments are committed to working with the Returned and Services League and other veteran and community organisations on how we best commemorate Anzac Day this year.”
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