In a bid to encourage the Victorian state government to ease restrictions further, music venues in Victoria have committed to ensuring all punters take part in digital contact tracing via QR codes before entry.
In a campaign announced today (May 11) and spearheaded by the Save Our Scene coalition and Music Victoria, venues that have signed on to the No QR, No Entry policy will enforce a 100 per cent QR code check-in rate “in a bid to make live music one of the safest industries in the state”. The organisations urge punters to get on board with the campaign as well.
As it currently stands, indoor non-seated venues can hold up to 75 per cent of their total capacity, in addition to a two-square-metre density quotient and patron cap of 1,000 people per space. Save Our Scene had previously criticised the state government for keeping non-seated venues at a reduced capacity while allowing sporting stadiums to hold large-scale events.
The policy arrives weeks before the Andrews government will allow small and medium venues (400 square metres or smaller) to host up to 200 people without any density limit from May 28. This is under the condition that COVID marshals are on-site to ensure all patrons are checking in to each space. In the same announcement last week, the government also said it was concerned with low QR code check-in rates.
“A recent survey showed only 41 per cent of visitors to hospitality venues checked in every time, while 24 per cent of sites visited by authorised officers between April 30 and May 2 were warned or received notices due to lack of compliance with electronic record keeping,” the statement read.
Responding to the statistics, Ben Thompson, booker for Save Our Scene venue 170 Russell, tells NME he suspects the venues surveyed were “daytime” hospitality businesses such as cafés, which may not have staff outside ensuring compliance with QR code check-ins.
Music venues, on the other hand, have bouncers and other staff who are able to ensure patrons record their details at the same time they were having their identification or tickets checked, he says.
170 Russell, Thompson says, has a check-in rate of more than 80 per cent. The reason a 100 per cent check-in rate is yet to be reached is that the responsibility to record contact details primarily falls on the patron, not the venue, he says.
Additionally, Thompson claims none of the venues involved with Save Our Scene has had any government checks conducted, nor have they received notices around a lack of compliance.
“It’s been very hard to explain to [the government] that we do have people on the door for all our shows – we have to scan tickets, we have to have security checking IDs – so we are really well placed to do this,” he tells NME.
“Our belief is that [daytime hospitality] venues were the venues surveyed, and that’s where the 41 per cent statistic came up. If they had have surveyed live music venues at that point, I believe that percentage would have been 80 per cent plus already. But now’s our chance to prove it.”
May 28 will also be the deadline for venues to switch to using the Victorian Government QR Code Service, instead of a third-party application that is connected to the government through an API.
Thompson said the government’s statement marked the first time it has provided any clear indication on how restrictions for live music venues can be eased, meaning managers can now carry out the steps needed to make this happen. Save Our Scene had previously called for a “clear and balanced roadmap for easing restrictions and increasing venue capacities”.
“When [Save Our Scene’s last letter] went out, we still had no idea what we had to do or what could be done to get our capacities up. We’ve never been told that this would be the path: very high compliance on QR codes,” Thompson says.
“However, we’ve now been given a path forward by the government. So we’re doing everything we can to follow it and work with them. We want to work with the government, we want to work with Health in order for our venues’ survival.”