COVID-19 shuts down Brisbane gay venues for first time

sportsman hotel exterior covid-19 coronavirus closure
Photo: Jordan Hirst

Brisbane’s Sportsman Hotel will today shut down for the first time in its history as the COVID-19 crisis grips Australia.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced pubs and clubs as well as many other businesses would shut down on Monday to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Sporties team announced “with mixed emotions and a heavy heart” on Sunday night the iconic LGBTIQ pub must close indefinitely.

“We will be closing the bar indefinitely until restrictions lift,” the team said.

“We want everyone to know that we are doing everything we can to look after our casual staff and entertainers as best we can.

“Without them, there will be no business to come back to.

“We will be back, as they say, you can’t keep a good Sportsgirl down. Sporties forever.”

The team said bottle shop Liquor on Leichhardt will stay open, for anyone wishing to show their support. It’s located two doors down from the pub on Leichhardt Street.

‘No way to know how long’ COVID-19 crisis will last

Longtime Sportsman Hotel owner Neil McLucas told it was the first time ever the pub has shut down. Last December, the Sportsman Hotel celebrated its 30th birthday.

“We’ve never closed up before. Even through our renovations, we’ve never closed in 30 years,” he said.

“We’re winding down everything today and emptying fridges. There’s no way of knowing how long this will last.”

McLucas said the Sporties team are bracing for a closure of six months at least.

“We’ll be back in business as soon as we’re allowed,” he said.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased in Australia to over 1600 as of Monday afternoon.

Increasingly strict crackdowns on crowds in the past week have shut down gay pubs, clubs and LGBTIQ and performing arts events nationwide.

The Beat Megaclub and The Wickham in Fortitude Valley have also shut down entirely due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Beat’s management announced on Saturday the venue would close “for the first time in our 36 years of operation.”

“We will be monitoring and adhering to government rules and advice and will be reassessing the options available on a week to week basis,” management said.

“Please look after yourselves and we look forward to partying with and seeing you soon.”

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