The Victorian government has announced that density limits will be reintroduced from 11:59pm tonight, in a blow to Melbourne's live music venues.
Before they could even think about recovering from two years of hell, Melbourne’s live music venues have been hit again by the reintroduction of density limits.
The new rules that will take effect from 11:59pm tonight (Thursday 6 January) will limit venues to one-patron-per-two-square-metres. The new limit potentially allows twice the density of the one-per-four-square-metre rule during the previous lockdown, but it still places artificial limits on venue capacity that could make it impossible for some venue owners to open their doors.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in Melbourne here.
The new measures will be introduced indoors-only at hospitality venues including restaurants, cafés, pubs and nightclubs. Entertainment venues including arcades, amusement parks, casinos and gaming venues are subject to the same density quotient.
As the rule only applies to indoor spaces, outdoor festivals won’t be affected, although these rules could change, with festivals cancelling across the country due to uncertainty around the highly transmissible new variant.
It’s also being recommended that venues avoid opening dancefloors and retain seated service only, throwing gigs across the state into further jeopardy.
In some cases, these rules may be temporarily academic, with venues across the city forced to shut their doors due to loss of staff to COVID isolation requirements. For others pushing forward, however, it could prove another massive financial and mental blow.
Victoria recorded over 17,000 COVID cases yesterday as the Omicron variant places pressure on governments across the country to consider reimposing more restrictions, despite Australia having one of the world’s highest vaccination rates.
The rules that the Victorian government have just reimposed are similar to those currently in New South Wales. The announcement also included a new mandate for people who test positive on a rapid-antigen test to alert the Department of Health, via new phone and digital means currently under development.
These new density restrictions are primarily being aimed at curbing transmission among young people, with people in their 20s currently accounting for around 40% of new cases. One in 20 Victorians aged in their 20s currently has COVID-19.
“Interaction in those environments is close, it’s crowded, it’s active and it’s mobile. It’s what young people do and we don’t begrudge them that,” Victorian health minister Martin Foley said.
“These relatively mild restrictions are about making sure that activity can continue but in a less congregated and less active space.”
Foley said the government had no plans to introduce another lockdown in Victoria.
For the latest government COVID-19 information, head here.