Powderfinger bassist John Collins – who co-owns the Brisbane venues The Triffid and Fortitude Music Hall – has slammed the Queensland government after new restrictions were announced following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.
Six new cases of community transmission in the state in the past 24 hours were reported earlier today (September 30). As a result, new restrictions in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, among other areas, took effect this afternoon. Hospitality venues must return to a one person per four square metre rule indoors, and one person per two square metres outdoors.
Additionally, patrons must be seated in venues when eating and drinking, and dancing is not permitted. However, this weekend’s NRL grand final at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane will still go ahead with a reduced capacity of 75 per cent.
“It’s difficult to convey how angry I am after listening to Premier Palaszcuk deliver the new restrictions at the press conference this morning,” Collins wrote in a post on his personal Facebook page earlier today.
“I love my NRL as much as anyone but I’m struggling to understand the science that supports 40,000 people at Suncorp Stadium while the venues that I co-own and manage have again been reduced to 15 per cent capacity.”
The restrictions requiring patrons to be seated means the venues he runs will be forced to cancel all scheduled events for the next fortnight, Collins said. Gigs that had been set to take place at Collins’ venues in the coming weeks included Budjerah and Karl S. Williams, both at the Triffid.
Collins also described the measures as a lockdown for the music industry, but without the financial support that would typically be offered during such a period.
“The music industry and music venues have been through hell over the past 19 months – averaging less than 30 per cent capacity. Apart from financial hardship the mental anguish is really taking its toll. The huge disparities between football and live music is obvious but our government doesn’t seem to care. They don’t value it,” Collins continued.
“We’ve had previous lockdowns with fewer community cases but this government is willing to take a risk for the sake of football – again – while restricting the music venues back to unviable conditions. When will they understand what this does to our industry? It doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Collins is far from the first artist to point out the disparities in restrictions between live music and sporting events in Australia.
“I hate the differentiation between sport and arts in Australia. It’s now at a point where, for me, somebody needs to draw the line. As the artistic community, we will draw the line in the sand now and we’ll say, ‘No more of your double standards now,'” she said in an interview on Studio 10.
“Sport is a great thing, absolutely, we understand it, but life is not just about sport, life is about art and culture, and art and culture play an equally important role.”
Last month, Alex Lahey published an open letter questioning the federal government’s roadmap to easing restrictions, and how it pertains to the return of live music in Australia.
“Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes. The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and event, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation,” she wrote.