Teenage revellers have been told they should consider using online platforms to celebrate Schoolies week as the coronavirus pandemic puts the event in doubt.
The Queensland government has not yet revealed plans to shut it down, with the fate of school-leaver celebrations across the state hinging on the advice of health authorities.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the green light will depend on whether the contagion is under control in late November when festivities are due to kick off.
But in the case of cancellation, Mr Tate suggested high school graduates party together from home over ‘Zoom’ or ‘social media’.
‘If (chief medical officer) Dr Jeannette Young says it’s not on, it’s finished,’ Cr Tate told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
‘You’re the technology people. Maybe you use Zoom or whatever it is, social media, to do Schoolies like that from home.
‘Together with police and volunteers, we’ve got that plan and we can roll it out. But the ultimate decision will be from the chief health officer.’
Each year, thousands of Australian Year 12 graduates flock to the Gold Coast, home to the country’s largest Schoolies celebration.
While the government does not organise the ‘organic event’, it oversees safety measures in the city as it hosts the festival.
COVID-19 has already claimed other large events due to take place later this year, including Queensland’s largest sporting event, the Gold Coast 600.
Child Safety and Youth Minister Di Farmer said the plan for the 2020 Safer Schoolies Gold Coast Response would be decided based on expert health advice.
While uncertainty remains, Schoolies.com, a booking site for Schoolies along Australia’s east coast and abroad, says ‘at this stage it’s business as usual for 2020 Schoolies’.
‘There are currently no restrictions that have been put in place by government over the dates of your holiday that will restrict you from celebrating Schoolies with your friends,’ the website reads.
However, school leavers who book with the website are offered a ‘full refund’ if government restrictions prevent them from checking in to accommodation before February 28 next year.
Events for the three-week graduation festival in Australia are also held in Byron Bay, the Sunshine Coast, Airlie Beach and Lorne.
The 2020 Schoolies Week is scheduled from November 21 until December 12.