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Cinemas shut, Sydney Film Festival cancelled, clubs closed: Indoor gathering ban may last SIX MONTHS

Cinemas are closing, the Sydney Film Festival is cancelled and nightclubs are shutting across Australia in response to a new coronavirus ban on gatherings.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban on all non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people on Wednesday, in the latest move to try to slow the spread of the deadly virus. 

Palace Cinemas said it would temporarily close all 20 of its cinemas indefinitely from Thursday and is offering full refunds to patrons who have already purchased tickets.

The Beat Megaclub is one of Brisbane’s biggest nightclubs and is popular with the gay community. It has shut all its bars except the Black Marble Bar after the ban on Wednesday on gatherings of more than 100 people in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus

WILL ALL PUBS CLOSE?

The Australian government has effectively banned all indoor places where 100 people or more gather.

This is likely to include most pubs and bars, but they could choose to stay open – as long as they guarantee no more than 100 people, including all staff, would be on the premises.

Outdoor bars could also potentially stay open, as the 100 people rule applies only to ‘a single enclosed area that is substantially closed by a roof or walls’.

But if pubs do choose to stay open, they are unlikely to make enough money to pay the staff required to keep it open.

Not only it is likely punters will stay home, those that do come out may not spend enough to cover staff wages.

‘We intend to re-open as soon as circumstances allow, with the usual rich selection of quality cinema,’ Palace said on its website.  

In an email to staff, Palace chief executive Benjamin Zeccola said it was the right decision given the aged demographic of its audiences.

‘The customer profile at Palace Cinemas is more mature and with that higher median age there is a higher degree of risk to our patrons in remaining open,’ he said.

Mr Zeccola also said it is not possible to ensure that less than 100 people are gathered such as if there were an evacuation or if people arrive early or linger after their sessions in the lobby or cafe.  

‘At this stage we don’t know when we expect to be able to re-open, but hope that we can do so within the next two to three months,’ Mr Zeccola said. 

‘We are deeply saddened by this.’

The Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has cancelled its June event for the first time in history, also promising full refunds to patrons or to swap them for tickets to next year’s festival.

The Sydney Film Festival has been forced to cancel for the first time since it began in 1954 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is offering full refunds or replacement tickets for next year

The Sydney Film Festival has been forced to cancel for the first time since it began in 1954 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is offering full refunds or replacement tickets for next year

‘In this rapidly evolving and unknown environment, the SFF board and management know this is the only responsible decision – albeit a devastating one,’ wrote SFF chair Deanne Weir, chief executive Leigh Small and festival director Nashen Moodley in a joint statement.

‘However, the health and safety of our community is our first concern.’

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said companies that defy the new ban will be fined $100,000. 

The non-essential indoor gathering ban will be implemented from 5pm on Wednesday in Victoria.

Individuals in Victoria would be fined $20,000 if they breach it.

Mr Andrews said Victorian restrictions may be extended to gatherings of fewer than 100 people in future. 

Two of Brisbane’s biggest nightclubs have also shut their doors following the Wednesday ban on gatherings. 

The Beat Megaclub which normally operates more than half a dozen bars said it was closing everything except its Black Marble Bar as of Wednesday, and would only allow a maximum of 100 people both patrons and staff.  

‘We would also ask if you are exhibiting any flu like symptoms please follow government advice and self-isolate rather than risk the safety of yourself and others around you,’ the Fortitude Valley club said on Facebook.

The Met, also in Fortitude Valley, will shut it’s doors entirely until further notice. 

The Palace Cinema on Norton Street, Leichardt, in Sydney. Palace has closed all 20 of its cinemas around Australia following Wednesday's ban and is offering ticket refunds

The Palace Cinema on Norton Street, Leichardt, in Sydney. Palace has closed all 20 of its cinemas around Australia following Wednesday’s ban and is offering ticket refunds

‘Thank you for the support, stay safe, and we look forward to reopening our doors soon.’

Not all patrons understood the reason behind the closures or the importance of staying home to prevent virus transmission.

‘Bad for you guys but Yass bring back the old house parties,’ wrote Alicia Jenelle on the announcement post.

‘House party time,’ wrote Olivia Low.  

The Australian government has banned all indoor gatherings of 100 or more people to combat coronavirus – meaning large pubs, cinemas, night clubs, museums and restaurants will have to close.

Speaking to the nation on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison effectively banned all places where 100 people or more meet – including staff.

It may force large bars and restaurants to close their doors across the country, as well as popular attractions such as Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and theme parks on the Gold Coast. 

He warned the drastic measures could be in place for up to six months, as Australia enters war-time measures not seen since the First World War. 

Indoor gatherings can have no more than 100 people, and no more than 500 people can attend outdoor gatherings. 

The Sydney Opera House (pictured virtually empty on Tuesday) will also be forced to close under drastic new coronavirus measures

The Sydney Opera House (pictured virtually empty on Tuesday) will also be forced to close under drastic new coronavirus measures

A woman is seen crossing the road wearing a face mask in Sydney's CBD on Tuesday (pictured) as the country enters lockdown

A woman is seen crossing the road wearing a face mask in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday (pictured) as the country enters lockdown

This does not apply to ‘essential’ gatherings, which includes public transport, medical facilities, prisons, parliaments, supermarkets, and shopping centres. 

Mr Morrison said there would be no quick fix to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, and warned that ‘tens of thousands of jobs’ could be lost.

‘We are looking at a situation of at least six months for how we deal with this, he said. 

‘It could be much longer than that.’

The move could force the closure of some of the country’s most renowned restaurants.

Gyms and swimming pools are not required to close, as long as they meet the requirements for social distancing and hand hygiene.

The government confirmed an ‘indoor gathering’ means a gathering within a single enclosed space, be it an area, room or premises.  

Dreamworld on the Gold Coast was open on Wednesday afternoon (pictured) but had few patrons and may soon have to close

Dreamworld on the Gold Coast was open on Wednesday afternoon (pictured) but had few patrons and may soon have to close

A long couple enjoy the sun in Melbourne's Federation Square (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon, usually a bustling area full of tourists and workers alike

A long couple enjoy the sun in Melbourne’s Federation Square (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon, usually a bustling area full of tourists and workers alike

For place with less than 100 people, Australians are still being asked to practice ‘social distancing’ – meaning they should stay 1.5m away from other people.

Small venues also need to ensure hand hygiene products and suitable waste disposal is in place, as well as frequent cleaning.

The Australian Hotels Association said the new restrictions will have a ‘devastating’ impact on pubs, and said it is working close with the federal and state governments.

It represents around 5,000 Australian pubs.

Usually full of tourists coming to admire street art, Melbourne's Hosier Lane sat empty on Wednesday afternoon (pictured)

Usually full of tourists coming to admire street art, Melbourne’s Hosier Lane sat empty on Wednesday afternoon (pictured)

CEO Stephen Ferguson said: ‘Obviously we will be following the instructions of the Government and medical experts to the letter – the number one priority is saving lives and stopping people becoming ill. 

‘But there’s no doubt this ban on more than 100 people gathering in venues will have a devastating impact on our workforce of more than 250,000 and will also impact our millions of patrons across Australia. 

‘Pubs are a vital part of society and will be key component in Australia’s employment and social recovery once we get through this difficult time.’ 

The Princess Theatre in Melbourne (pictured) has suspended performances of the award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play

The Princess Theatre in Melbourne (pictured) has suspended performances of the award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play

What gatherings are ‘essential’?

What the government deems as an ‘essential’ gathering will still be allowed

This includes: 

– Airports

– Public transport (including stations, platforms, stops, trains, trams, buses)

– Medical and health service facilities

– Emergency service facilities

– Disability or aged care facilities

– Correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals

– Parliaments

– Food markets, supermarkets, grocery stores, retail stores, shopping centres 

– Office buildings, factories, construction sites, mining sites

– Schools, universities, education facilities and child care facilities

– Hotels and motels and other accommodation facilities 

– Public places such as Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall and Federation Square, and Sydney’s Martin Place

 

What will close? 

Large pubs and restaurants across Australia will be forced to close if they hold more than 100 guests.

Sydney’s Mr Wong restaurant in the city’s CBD seats 240 people, which means it would break the rules.

Such places could technically stay open, as long as no more than 100 people are on site – including staff.

The Sydney Opera House announced it has cancelled all performances until at least March 29, but this is likely to be extended.

Ticket holders will be refunded. 

Melbourne’s Princess Theatre has also been forced to close, affecting all performances of the award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. 

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is also likely to have to close, alongside other major tourist attractions including museums and the Sea Life aquarium. 

Theme parks on the Gold Coast may also have to shut, as they regularly hold more than 500 people – as does Melbourne’s world-famous zoo.

Casinos and pokies could also be shut. 

Particular events which could be considered essential will be evaluated by individual states and territories by their chief medical officers.

They will then be assessed on their individual merits, primarily to determine if social distancing is possible at the event. 

Event Cinemas confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that they would stay open and limit tickets t 100 per cinema screen (stock image)

Event Cinemas confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that they would stay open and limit tickets t 100 per cinema screen (stock image)

Large restaurants, such as Sydney's world-renowned Mr Wong (pictured) will also be forced to close

Large restaurants, such as Sydney’s world-renowned Mr Wong (pictured) will also be forced to close

What will stay open? 

Some of Australia’s small venues will be allowed to remain open, as long as they can guarantee no more than 100 people – including staff – will be inside at any one time.

Small-sized restaurants and cafes will be exempt, as will takeaways – meaning customers can still order and pick up food during the crisis.

Event Cinemas told Daily Mail Australia they were staying open and screening films as usual, but would limit ticket sales and work with health officials. 

But large pubs and restaurants may find it difficult to make money serving such limited numbers of customers, especially while still paying staff wages.

Essential gatherings will also be allowed.

This includes public transport, medical facilities, health services, schools, courts and prisons.

Supermarkets and shops will also stay open, as will office buildings and universities.

Gyms, indoor fitness centres and swimming pools will also remain open, as long as they meet the requirements for social distancing and hand hygiene.

Such venues have been ordered to ensure regular high standards of environmental cleaning take place.

Empty tables are seen at bars outside the Sydney Opera House (pictured) on Tuesday, with such venues now likely to close entirely

Empty tables are seen at bars outside the Sydney Opera House (pictured) on Tuesday, with such venues now likely to close entirely

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk