Concert venues and cinemas won’t reopen immediately as Australia coronavirus restrictions ease

The arts and live entertainment industries aren't immediately in the clear

A three-phase plan for easing Australia out of coronavirus restrictions has been announced today (May 8) by the National Cabinet, which comprises the Prime Minister, state premiers and chief ministers.

The “cautious” and “gentle” first phase one, as described by Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, allows retail stores to reopen and cafes and restaurants to seat up to ten patrons at a time. Non-work gatherings consisting of up to ten people are allowed to go ahead, and up to five people are permitted to visit someone else’s home (not including regular residents of the household).

However, indoor movie theatre, concert venues, galleries, pubs, stadiums, nightclubs and museums will remain closed during phase one.

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The second phase is when “entertainment and amusement” venues (including concert venues, cinemas and museums) are permitted to reopen, providing they only allow a maximum of 20 people in at a time. Pubs, registered and licensed clubs and nightclubs will remain closed.

In the third and final phase, pubs will be permitted to reopen, as the ABC reports. Arts venues will be allowed to host up to 100 patrons at a time, and non-work gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed.

“It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID-safe economy in July of this year,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the conference earlier today.

The three phases don’t appear to account for much larger gatherings such as music festivals, concerts and nightclubs, which would host more than 100 patrons simultaneously without little possibility of physical distancing. However, Murphy had previously mentioned these kinds of gatherings are low on the list of priorities.

“We certainly would not be contemplating large-scale gatherings. It’s hard for me to envisage reopening of nightclubs and big music festivals in the foreseeable future,” he said in a recent episode of Q+A.

The timeframe for when these phases are implemented is at the discretion of the state and territory governments. Throughout these phases, however, Australians are still required to uphold 1.5-metre distancing, good hygiene and to stay home if they’re unwell. Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the state will not be making any decisions on the phases until Monday (May 11). The Queensland state government has already detailed how it intends to roll out the phases.

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Additionally, no mention of international travel is listed in the phases, with Morrison saying, “I can’t see travel overseas happening in the foreseeable future.”

This could cause extra issues for festivals like Splendour in the Grass, which has moved to October and had announced an initial lineup full of overseas acts.

See the detailed three-phase plan for Australia’s easing coronavirus restrictions below, via SBS’s Brett Mason.

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