Gay venues around Australia react to COVID-19 crowd bans


the beat megaclub brisbane sportsman hotel coronavirus covid-19 arq nightclub
Photo: Funky Munky

LGBTIQ nightclubs and bars across Australia have reacted to the federal government’s new coronavirus crowd bans, with some closing their doors indefinitely.

On Wednesday (March 18), the federal government banned non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people as Australia responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In Brisbane, The Sportsman Hotel said as of Wednesday they would remain open, but with strict new conditions.

“These will be on top of our current hygiene standards we have set. We will have a ‘one in, one out’ policy to ensure we don’t exceed the gathering limit,” Sporties said.

“We will take less dinner bookings than usual for busy nights such as Fridays and Tuesdays to make sure tables can be appropriately distanced.”

The venue said in the Facebook message those staying home can watch the drag shows streamed on Facebook Live.

“We are putting in these measures to ensure that we stay open and provide a place for you to enjoy yourselves should you wish to,” Sporties said.

“Anyone who is feeling unwell or has risk factors for COVID-19 [should] stay home.”

The Beat Megaclub also announced on Wednesday it will scale back to only one area, the Black Marble Bar.

“For the safety of our patrons and staff we’re only permitted a maximum occupancy of 100 persons,” the venue said.

The Beat also urged anyone with symptoms to follow official advice and self-isolate for the safety of others.

Venues around Australia call last drinks due to coronavirus

In Sydney, ARQ Nightclub also announced given the new crowd limits, the venue would close until further notice.

“The safety and wellbeing of our guests and employees has always been, and will remain our top priority,” the venue wrote on Facebook.

“We encourage everyone to remain calm but vigilant during this challenging time… ARQ will be planning a re-opening as soon as the current situation changes.”

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In Western Australia, the Connections Nightclub in Perth said they had made the unprecedented decision to close.

“Connections has made the decision to close the venue to comply with government measures to maintain public health in Western Australia,” the venue announced.

“This has been a decision like no other in our almost 45 year history and taken with great pain.

“This is an extremely difficult time for everyone here and across our world. But please remember There’s No Place Like Home, Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break Your Stride and Your Disco Needs You.”

The Court Hotel in Perth wrote on Facebook they would stay open with new trading conditions. These include separating patrons into areas of no more than 100 people at a time.

“The venue will not allow more than 50 people to wait outside to enter. People not following social distancing rules will be asked to leave the area by security,” they wrote.

“These changes will allow the venue to continue to employ some of our team members who would otherwise face a very scary and uncertain future.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced 500-person limits on outdoor gatherings would continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The restrictions have led to cancellations of arts, cultural and community events across the country, including several pride festivals.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.