The co-owner of a popular Newcastle live music venue says all he could do was laugh watching the video of the Hillsong event after two years of stress trying to run a pub through the pandemic.
Dylan Oakes, who is one of the owners and operations manager of the Family Hotel, didn't mince words describing his reaction to the summercamp, where hundreds of attendees were singing and dancing along with performers on stage for two days before being told to stop by NSW Health.
"It was disgusting, demoralising, hurtful and just blatantly rude and disrespectful of my business, my profession, my industry and the music industry," he said.
Before COVID, the venue had live music every Saturday night. They have now opted for a quarterly concert showcasing local acts.
He said the past two years had been "stressful and tiring", with restrictions having a large effect on himself and others in the local industry.
"A lot of us are struggling with mental health as well," he said.
He listed the impacts as financial loss, being overworked with staff forced to isolate, constantly training staff after lockdowns with some having left the industry and dealing with constantly changing restrictions with little notice given.
Mr Oakes said he was in disbelief seeing the Hillsong event and that all he could do was laugh.
The current Omicron outbreak has also claimed bigger festivals.
Lunar Electric had to cancel its Foreshore festival that was due to go ahead last month, while this Saturday's Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate has also been axed after the public health order was introduced this week banning singing and dancing at outdoor events.
Both festivals were sold out, and forced to cancel with just a few days notice.
Hope Rocks at Hope Estate in February has also been called off.
Lunar Electric co-director Simon Leigh said it was "definitely hard to look at" the videos of the Hillsong event.
"There are double standards that seem to be being applied," he said. "It's so frustrating."
While the Hillsong camp was only a few hundred people, Mr Leigh said larger festivals than Lunar Electric were able to go ahead since the Omicron outbreak such as Field Day in Sydney.
"And that's fine... but there should be one set of rules for all of us," he said. "The goal posts keep getting moved."
Mr Leigh said there were "a lot of people out there hurting in this industry".
"It has had such a massive financial impact, not just on us but all our suppliers. A lot of people are losing money.
"It's so disappointing for so many people on so many levels
Mr Leigh said the NSW government did have schemes in place to compensate for event cancellations, but it wasn't nearly enough to make up the windfall and wasn't how they wanted to conduct business.
Grapevine Gathering said the cancellation of their event would have a $5.2 million effect on the greater Hunter Valley and caused the loss of more than 1400 jobs.
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