News December 10, 2020

Nightclubs and dancing are returning to Canberra

Nightclubs and dancing are returning to Canberra

Nightclubs and dancing can return to Canberra and the rest of the Australian Capital Territory from noon this Friday (December 11).

It is part of a relaxing of restrictions to Stage 4 after authorities deemed it virus-free.

Venues with a dedicated dancefloor can have one person per two-square-metres or up to 25 patrons on the dancefloor at the one time – half the number allowed in some other states.

These are for venues which have signed on to the Check In CBR app to collect patron contact details. Venues have until December 16 to register with Check In CBR.

Those who decide not to must apply the one-person per four-square-metre rule to dedicated dance areas, up to a maximum of 25.

They also have to continue to use the venue capacity rule of one person per four square metres of usable space indoors and one person per two square metres of usable space outdoors.

Acting chief health officer Vanessa Johnston said, “ACT venues tend to have smaller dance spaces, which is why the overall number of people permitted in a dance space is 25 people, but a greater density of patrons in these spaces is allowed.

“Dancing carries a high risk of transmission of COVID-19 as it is difficult for people who are dancing to maintain physical distancing.

“Additionally, dance areas tend to be small and they encourage crowding.”

Exemptions may be granted for events and gatherings for up to 8,000 people on application through the COVID Safe Event Protocol.

Any gatherings over 500 require an exemption.

Large indoor performance venues (with forward-facing and tiered seating, such as theatres and arenas) can have events up to 65% capacity, up to 1,500 people, provided the events are ticketed and seated and a COVID Safety Plan is in place for each event.

Enclosed outdoor venues with permanent tiered seating and grandstands can have up to 65% capacity – up to 1,500 people – provided events are ticketed and seated and a COVID Safety Plan is in place for each event.

Patrons must be seated when consuming alcohol in indoor spaces but can stand while eating.

Many Canberra nightclubs have managed to survive as bars through the lock-in.

Authorities have told them they can now resume operating under their nightclub licences if they wish to do so. However for some, the relaxed restrictions have come too late.

One is Mr Wolf, which decided to permanently close its doors in August.

Its managing director Leigh Barnett told ABC Radio that it would have been irresponsible on his part to keep the place running when costs were mounting daily.

“Nightclubs are expensive to run, particularly in the capital where we have some of the highest liquor licensing fees in the country,” he said.

“If business conditions were to change in the ACT more in favour of the entertainment industry then we would relish the opportunity to come back.”

Other clubs facing operating on a quarter of their capacity had shifted to food and tried to diversify their entertainment. But Jessica Arena of the 88mph nightclub told the ABC the lock-down had adversely affected it financially.

They initially had to let their staff go but managed to get some back through JobKeeper.

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