Lithgow's RSL Sub-Branch announced on Tuesday, March 30 that its planned Anzac Day service has been cancelled, leaving many in the community angry and frustrated.
In line with services that have also been cancelled in the Blue Mountains, logistical issues are being blamed for the canning of services on Anzac Day.
Michael Cuthbert JP, Honorary Secretary of the local sub-branch said in a release to local media that they were unable to comply with the restrictions currently in place by the NSW state government.
"With the health interests of our veterans, serving Defence Force personnel and the community at the forefront, and in view of these requirements, we are unable to comply with the restrictions NSW Health have instructed, therefore, we have been forced to regretfully cancel Lithgow's Anzac Day services for 2021," Mr Cuthbert said.
"We are not the only Sub-Branch or Service Organisation to be similarly affected. Across the entire Blue Mountains, Portland, Wallerawang among our local areas and many other locations, there will NO Anzac Day Commemorations this year, due to these restrictions placed upon us by NSW Health."
Mr Cuthbert said he and the rest of the RSL sub-branch understand that people were hoping to see the 2021 Anzac Day as a restart given last year's disruptions but admitted managing large crowds and complying with COVID restrictions was "immensely problematic, expensive and in a local sense, unworkable".
There will NO Anzac Day services this year, due to these restrictions placed upon us by NSW Health.
"Anyone who wishes to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on or before Anzac Day is welcome to do so, and as an alternative to our normal services
you may consider to remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans by conducting another driveway commemoration, like we did last year to great success and appreciation by our veterans," Mr Cuthbert said.
Mr Cuthbert apologised and pleaded with the community not to level criticism at the local organisations who he said tried hard to make a Lithgow Anzac Day happen, instead pointing the finger firmly at NSW Health and RSL NSW.
"The blame lies squarely at NSW Health who implemented these restrictions and RSL NSW for not having things organised properly in time," he said.
When the news hit social media, some locals questioned the holding of the Lithgow Show and other large events when something as important to many as Anzac Day services. It isn't all doom and gloom, with locals vowing to commemorate the day in their own ways, truly keeping the Anzac spirit alive.
The Lithgow Mercury reached out to NSW Health to ask about the current advice concerning Anzac Day services. A spokesperson said they are continuing to work with RSL NSW on ways locals branches can hold services.
"NSW Health is continuing to work with and support RSL NSW to ensure Anzac Day commemorations are COVID-safe and meet public aspirations for this important event," the NSW Health spokesperson said.
"Local Anzac Day marches and services of up to 5,000 people are permitted, subject to the one person per 2 square metre rule.
"The organiser must have and comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan for outdoor events. There is a requirement to keep an electronic record of people attending."
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