Virus forces Sydney Mardi Gras parade off the streets

Sydney (AFP) –


Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will go ahead next year as a seated event instead of its usual glittery street parade to protect revellers from the coronavirus pandemic, organisers announced Thursday.

The parade, which usually draws tens of thousands of partygoers, will move from its traditional route through the city's gay hub to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

"The 2021 parade may look different to how it has been in the past, but we feel very lucky to be able to give this opportunity to our communities during these times," Mardi Gras chief executive Albert Kruger said in a statement.

The event, slated for March 6, will move away from large floats to better suit the venue and allow a seated audience of up to 23,000, Kruger said.

"Not only is the SCG close to our spiritual home of Oxford Street, but it also provides the safest venue for us to hold the event," he added.

The first march in 1978 ended when police violently cracked down on a small group of protesters but it has since grown to be one of the city's biggest events.

Australia has largely suppressed Covid-19, allowing the rollback of social distancing restrictions around the country.

The nation has recorded around 27,600 cases and 907 virus deaths in a population of 25 million.