The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has officially been cancelled following the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding non-essential mass gatherings of people.

In a recent statement, it looks like the Melbourne’s beloved Comedy Festival is not going to be postponed, but cancelled.

Festival director Susan Provan issued this official statement regarding the cancellation of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival:

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about non-essential mass gatherings, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The success of our Festival is in the way that comedy transforms our city for the inspiration and entertainment of hundreds of thousands of comedy lovers.

Our primary concern is the health and welfare of our artists and participants, staff and audiences. Cancelling the Festival is heartbreaking but the only decision possible to support the community’s efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We’re devastated by the news but thank everyone for their understanding and support. No decision has been made about the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow, due to commence in late April.

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The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the second-largest comedy festival in the world, and had more than 76,000 attendances last year alone. With events such as this being cancelled, it is only a sign of the upheaval to the arts that Australia will be conducting in the name of safety. Live music, theatre, ballet and opera are slated to be the hardest hit out of all events.

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, slated for March 19-29, has also been postponed, to an as-yet-unknown date.

“If another responsible course of action was available to us we’d have pursued it, but under the circumstances, we cannot proceed,” said festival chief executive Anthea Loucas in a statement issued to staff and partners late on Friday. “Everyone in our organisation is heartbroken by this turn of events.”