The management of Sunshine Coast venue NightQuarter has criticised the Queensland government after being served a shutdown notice over COVID-19 safety breaches last week.
According to the ABC, on Friday evening (June 11), Queensland Health compliance officers and local police served NightQuarter co-owner Michelle Christoe a notice ordering the live entertainment venue to close immediately, claiming it posed “an unacceptable risk to public health”. The notice was reportedly served because authorities observed patrons dancing in their allocated seats.
Queensland’s chief health officer Jeanette Young told the ABC there had been repeated breaches of public health directions at NightQuarter and several complaints from members of the community around physical distancing. The venue’s closure is effective until Queensland Health-approved controls had been implemented by management, or the public health emergency ends.
“We have worked closely with the operators of NightQuarter for several months in an attempt to help them continue operating in accordance with the Queensland public health directions,” Young said.
“To ensure the safety of their patrons and the broader community, there was no choice but to issue a public health order requiring the main stage area to close.”
In a statement on Instagram, NightQuarter staff pointed out the shutdown notice was served in the same week as the State of Origin match in Townsville, which was able to host just under 30,000 people.
“In the same week that Queensland hosted a capacity 30,000 crowd for the State of Origin, it is devastating to have our small regional venue shut down despite following all rules within our approved Covid Safe plan. Standing and dancing at a concert is no different to standing and dancing at a football game,” the statement read.
Christoe said to the ABC the shutdown notice was “devastating news for the music industry”.
“The issue that Queensland Health have at the moment is dancing. When people stand up in their seats and become less than socially distanced, they then regard it as dancing,” she said.
“However, I guess where the hypocrisy is, we’re not seeing this across the industry. We’re not seeing it against other industries like sport, and that makes it very hard for us to maintain the compliance with patrons.”