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Covid-19: Rhythm & Alps music festival headliners drop out in Omicron scare

Fat Freddy's Drop performing at Rhythm & Alps 2020. The popular New Year's Eve festival will this year be headlined by Shapeshifter.

Lucas Perelini/Supplied

Fat Freddy’s Drop performing at Rhythm & Alps 2020. The popular New Year’s Eve festival will this year be headlined by Shapeshifter.

The first day of South Island music festival Rhythm & Alps has been marred by two headliners from its 2021 lineup dropping out, after one tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

On the festival’s Facebook page on Wednesday, a spokesperson announced two scheduled acts could no longer make it.

“Unfortunately due to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, Friction and Dimension are unable to make it to Wānaka to perform Rhythm & Alps 2021.

“Keep your eyes peeled for scheduling updates that we are working on.”

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Dimension, a DJ from the United Kingdom also known as Robert Etheridge, has tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

He arrived in New Zealand on December 16, and returned three negative tests before testing positive on December 27 – the result of a day 9 test.

Friction, also a UK-based DJ, posted on social media he was “heartbroken”, after he was unknowingly in the vicinity of a potential Covid-19 case.

“I have returned a negative test but now as a precaution, I have to isolate for a period of time, and am unfortunately not going to be able to perform for you guys at the festival tonight.

“The safety of everyone at the event, as well as the whole of New Zealand, is the most important thing to me above everything.”

Friction played at Christchurch’s Hidden Lakes festival on Tuesday.

Rhythm and Alps organiser Alex Turnbull said they were “waiting for some instruction from the Ministry of Health”, but could not say much more at this time.

The popular New Year’s Eve festival is still set to rock in Cardrona Valley, just south of Wānaka this week, and will be headlined by Shapeshifter.

An estimated 10,000 people will attend over three days, starting on December 29.

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