Summernats returns to inject $30m into ACT

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has welcomed the possible return of Summernats to Canberra in January.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has welcomed the possible return of Summernats to Canberra in January.

Summernats is ready to rev back into action in January, the first time the petrolhead festival will be held in Canberra since the outbreak of COVID-19.

It will be one of the first major events to be held in the national capital following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The four-day car show usually attracts thousands of visitors, but was cancelled for the first time this year due to COVID concerns.

Festival co-owner Andy Lopez said while border restrictions may prevent some interstate visitors from attending, Summernats would be able to go ahead.

"The event is ready to run and to run in a COVID-safe format - there is absolutely no reason why Summernats shouldn't happen," Mr Lopez told AAP.

"It will be similar to previous years, but it will be different."

It's expected that density limits will be enforced at key areas around Summernats for both indoor and outdoor events.

While a final approval for the event would still need be given by ACT authorities, Chief Minister Andrew Barr welcomed the possible return of Summernats.

However, the festival's normal location in Canberra's north has been used as a major drive-through COVID testing clinic since the start of the pandemic.

"We'll do what we need to do to accommodate events, and that may mean either temporarily or permanently shifting testing sites next year," Mr Barr said on Thursday.

The ACT's COVID roadmap said larger events and gatherings would be able to take place from late November or early December, but exemptions may still be required.

Mr Lopez said the festival would be a welcome boost for Canberra's hospitality and tourism industry, which has been struggling under COVID restrictions.

It's estimated that Summernats would provide a $30 million boost to the local economy.

The festival's co-owner said 2022's Summernats would be able to provide a pathway for other large events to be held in Canberra in the months ahead, after the easing of COVID restrictions.

"Rather than being a test case, we're a role model for other events," he said.

"We see ourselves as setting a standard where we have a willing, engaged and motivated partner with ACT Health to help figure out the settings and watch them get implemented."

Australian Associated Press