THE coronavirus has claimed its first "victim" in Leeton shire with the 2020 Leeton SunRice Festival officially called off.
Leeton Shire Council management, in conjunction with the Leeton SunRice Festival Committee, made the decision to cancel the Easter long weekend event late on Monday after the recent NSW public health order banning events that could have 500 people or more in attendance.
Leeton SunRice Festival Director Julie Axtill said the decision to not proceed with the large crowd events such as the Festival on Mountford, the street parade, and the balloon glow was inevitable.
However, the "shades of green cocktail party" on April 9 may still go ahead to celebrate the work of the five Ambassador Quest entrants who have been fundraising for their charities in the lead up to the event.
The winners of the quest will be announced on the night.
With the COVID-19 situation and information evolving daily, organisers recognise even this function may need to be reconsidered closer to the time.
Council will also meet with the organisers of the other smaller fringe events that run over Easter to reconsider whether they proceed or not based on the advice of the NSW and federal governments.
Council's general manager, Jackie Kruger, said these decisions can be challenging to make as the situation can change daily.
"Ultimately, we need to do our part to control this pandemic and council will do its level best to ensure we are abreast of and fully implement government and regulatory bodies' resolutions around COVID-19," she said.
"Council is committed to ensuring that the spread of COVID-19 is prevented and slowed down, and encourages anyone with flu-like symptoms to ring Healthdirect on 1800 022 222."