Conference called off

THIS weekend's District 9780 Conference in Swan Hill has been cancelled as the list of events scrapped in the wake of COVID-19 increasingly grows.

More than 300 people were expected to congregate in town from Rotary clubs in the western region for the three-day event, hosted by Swan Hill Sunrise Rotary and Swan Hill Rotary.

Delegates were to arrive on Friday, with activities including the Heartbeat of the Murray light and laser show, dinner at Lake Boga and the main conference at the Swan Hill Town Hall to hear from a number of speakers.

It's understood a number of people who booked accommodation for the event will still travel to Swan Hill on their own accord.

District Governor Rosanne Kava said she was "immensely disappointed" to have to cancel the conference.

"Especially for those who have basically spent the past two years organising it in Swan Hill," she told The Guardian.

"We had an excellent program of speakers, and had to contact them of course so say it won't be going ahead.

"It's also very disappointing for the town not to have an influx of people, booking into restaurants and motels and enjoying themselves, but safety had to come to the fore."

Ms Kava said a number of Rotarians were in the older age bracket, meaning they were vulnerable to COVID-19.

She added the organising team were not in a position to make a decision if the conference would be postponed to a later date.

Meanwhile, upcoming concerts at the town hall are still expected to go ahead, despite advice to cancel or postpone mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

The town hall confirmed Toni Childs Retrospective Tour on March 25 and The Mik Maks Musical Adventures on April 1 have not been cancelled.

Swan Hill Town Hall venue and performing arts manager Yvette Myhill told The Guardian they followed state government directive to still run events under 500 people.

"If any directives from government changes that we need to reassess, we absolutely will as soon we get that word," Ms Myhill said.

"We're contacting all of our hirers and event promoters asking how they would like to proceed, to give them a choice."

Ms Myhill said the town hall would also contact those hiring the hall for community events.

The virus has also caused the cancellation of events in Wycheproof, including tomorrow's Festival of Small Halls.

Wycheproof Community Resource Centre chairperson Ann Durie said the upcoming Wycheproof Lions Club deb ball and the Buloke Women's Network International Women's Day event were postponed.

Ms Durie said with the audience expected to attend the Festival of Small Halls being older generations, she believed they would choose not to attend the event anymore.

"We're finding that the older people are staying at home," she said.

"Our local Lions deb ball has also been cancelled, so we're just finding that we wouldn't get the numbers there, as much as we want it to happen.

"It's been a good event in the past, it's just that people are panicking, and rightly so, some of the older people don't want to fall ill."

Producer of Festival of Small Halls Eleanor Rigden said they were devastated to cancel their visit to Wycheproof.

"But, we cannot take a chance on being a focal point for a gathering with the risk of one of our beloved community members falling ill," she said.

"We look forward to coming together with the folks in the Buloke Shire when that's the right way to build together again."