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THE Taste of Tasmania will not proceed in its usual format this year.

However the Hobart City Council unanimously agreed at its meeting on Monday evening that a smaller, modified Taste-style event could still go ahead, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

In lieu of the full festival, the City of Hobart will allocate up to $300,000 in the upcoming budget to hold a modified “Taste-style” event over the Christmas–New Year period, pending the practical implementation of any restrictions that may be in place.

“This will be a community celebration of resilience and creativity, as we reach the end of what will have been the most challenging year many of us have experienced,” Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said.

“We expect people will be very keen to wave 2020 goodbye.”

Cr Reynolds said The Taste of Tasmania had never before been cancelled in its 31-year history and the decision had not been made lightly.

“The success of the festival relies on the ability to cater to large crowds and this may not be possible in the foreseeable future,” she said.

“We expect that physical distancing will be with us for some time to come.

“The impacts of COVID-19 on public gatherings and social interaction, as well as travel, business operations and the local and broader economies create too great a level of uncertainty for us to be able to proceed with the planning of the festival.

“Yet, if we wait any longer, it would be near on impossible from a logistical point of view to run the festival.”

Economic instability is also a factor, with the ability to source sponsorship for the festival greatly diminished.

It is anticipated that any modified event would still focus on local food and entertainment, but the concept and scope will be subject to further consideration.

This comes as Labor has called for the money earmarked for the Taste of Tasmania to be redirected to other summer events that support businesses affected by coronavirus if the popular festival were to be cancelled.

The council budgeted $300,000 in the 2020/2021 draft estimates, with additional funding to be sought from the State Government.

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Following discussions with Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, Premier Peter Gutwein said the Taste should proceed in some form and asked the council to defer making a decision at the meeting.

Labor leader Rebecca White said the Taste was not only a tourism drawcard showcasing the best of Tasmanian produce, it was an icon for the state.

“The Taste of Tasmania generates revenue for hundreds of Tasmanian small businesses who rely on it for customers either at their trade stall or from flow on benefits in the region,’’ she said.

“The State Government must ensure that every dollar that would have been spent on the Taste of Tasmania remains committed to hosting summer events that will support our tourism, hospitality, arts and culture businesses as they work hard to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”

Mr Gutwein said a meeting would take place between him and the council this week to discuss options for the Taste.