Hillsong Church has issued an apology after allowing hundreds of people to sing and dance at a youth camp, after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he was “completely shocked” by video from the event.
- Authorities decide not to fine Hillsong Church for breaching COVID-19 rules
- Footage shows singing and dancing at a youth camp
- Health authorities deemed the event in breach of COVID-19 rules
Health authorities yesterday demanded singing and dancing immediately stop at the event, as NSW Police intervened to “ensure future compliance” with COVID-19 restrictions.
The video showed hundreds of participants maskless, singing and dancing inside a large tent with performers on stage.
“We regret giving any perception that we were not playing our part to keep NSW safe and we sincerely apologise to the community at large,” Hillsong said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
But it maintained the youth camp was not a music festival.
“These are high school-aged events that include sporting activities and games,” the statement said.
“They are alcohol-free events, held outdoors, and the number of students attending each camp is just over 200.”
NSW Police has confirmed Hillsong will not be fined over the event.
“Following discussions with organisers and after consultation with NSW Health, no infringement will be issued,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Glynn said.
Earlier, Mr Perrottet said he understood the “anger that people right across the state have felt”.
Mr Perrottet said it was his “expectation” a fine would be issued.
“I’ll take the advice in relation to the legal teams at NSW Health and if they are in breach, which is what the information I’ve received from the Health Minister is, then a fine should be issued.”
The maximum penalty for a corporation breaching public health orders is $55,000.
‘Not similar to a music festival in any way’
Recent changes to public health orders banned singing and dancing at music festivals, hospitality venues, nightclubs, entertainment facilities and major recreation facilities.
While the order does not apply to religious services, NSW Health has deemed the event a major recreation facility and therefore subject to the ban on singing and dancing.
Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said she was “very disturbed” by the footage, and urged Hillsong to “comply with the laws” if it was to be welcomed back to the region.
Music industry outrage grows
A chorus of music industry figures has taken to social media to voice outrage at the camp.
“While all other music festivals are heading down the toilet same as last year, Hillsong are no masks, singing and dancing like we’ve all been told not to do,” country singer Troy Cassar-Daley posted.
Mr Perrottet said he understood the music industry would be “outraged” at the Hillsong event.
“I very much appreciate the sacrifices those festival organisers have made,” he said.