The return of nightlife in Melbourne

The return of nightlife in Melbourne

It’s been almost a year since Melbourne night clubs in Melbourne and pubs shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Party lovers and night owls have been starved of some action. The easing of the lockdown restrictions couldn’t have come at a better time.  Nightclubs and bars finally opened during the first week of December (with a few COVID safety protocols that need to be followed).  This has been good news for many businesses who have barely been hanging in and to ordinary folk who’ve been battling cabin fever for months.

 When 2019 ended, we were all singing about 20-plenty but unfortunately somewhere in the Chinese Province of Wuhan some unsuspecting family shared a Pangolin with an unknown strain of Corona virus that would spread throughout the world. In less than 6 months, hundreds of thousands of people around the world would die because if the virus.

The rapid speed of the virus spread blindsided everybody. Those who could, worked from home, public spaces were shut down to the masses and life pretty much ground to a still. The food and entertainment industries were the hardest hit. With lockdown rules that restricted movement and dictated that we only go out for essential things, pubs and clubs in Melbourne could do nothing but shut down. Art and music moved online. People did all they could to keep themselves entertained and held online zoom parties. People found creative ways to share music and life pretty much became virtual. Awards shows were held sans audience members and winners delivered speeches on zoom. We could have cancelled these things that seem frivolous but we needed to remind ourselves that we can get through this. That life goes on.  This was good because it inspired more artists to create.

After seven months, Melbourne and Sydney finally got the green light to return to live night time entertainment. There is one important rule everyone had to stick to: venues could have no more than 50 people at one time and there had to be a 4sq.m space between people.

The State of Victoria announced the reopening of pubs and clubs and the new rules after it recorded 37 days of no new coronavirus cases. There are no indoor or outdoor caps on the number of patrons who can go to bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes for some stand-up drinking. However, QR codes are required for contact tracing go those venues that offer dance floors and can accommodate up to 50 people. Smaller venues that can accommodate 25 or less will not have to face spacing regulations.

Increasing capacity for will help entertainment venues become profitable again. In other states certain owners were allowing breaches of social distancing regulations and celebrating these on social media. This had health authorities worried that this would be copied by owners in states that were still on lockdown. Brisbane was first to reopen bars and restaurants and dance floors opened in Mid-November. Before then, patrons had to sit and listen to dance music. They couldn’t risk bumping against each other on the dance floor. When dancing was finally allowed, people queued in lines for hours just to get a turn.

Dancefloors might be open in Victoria but it will take some time for live events to be allowed to take place. Until then, we can only hope that the vaccine takes effect, infections and death rates go down to zero, the economy picks up and the world can get back to some sort of “normal”.

Nicholas Jansen