Entertainment ‘vanishes’ from Melbourne’s reopening plan in crushing blow for industry

When the owner of Melbourne’s Comedy Republic saw entertainment venues would be allowed to reopen from this Friday, he did not waste any time booking gigs.

Key points:

  • On Sunday, the Victorian government announced the state would no longer be in lockdown as of October 22
  • Daniel Andrews’ Twitter account had said entertainment venues could open to 20 fully vaccinated people indoors
  • The government now says this wording was “incorrect” and has apologised for “any inconvenience” 

Kyran Wheatley organised and sold out eight shows for this weekend – now they will all have to be cancelled because the word “entertainment” has disappeared from the road map.

Mr Wheatley did not know what happened.

“I’m reading the Premier’s Twitter account right now and it still says pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can open to 20 fully vaccinated people indoors, but late yesterday … [we saw] that the word entertainment had vanished from the [road map] that was published to the Premier’s site,” he told Virginia Trioli.

“It was just a small crack in the door, 20 people just enough to put your fingers in, and it feels like they’ve slammed that door shut on our fingers.”

It was not just the venue that had quickly changed plans — staff had as well.

One worker brought forward a flight from Perth to Melbourne, while another reduced the interval between their two AstraZeneca appointments to make sure they were fully vaccinated before serving the public.

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State government sorry

When contacted by the ABC, a Victorian government spokesperson admitted entertainment venues had been mistakenly included in some documents over the weekend.

“A high-level document released on Sunday had incorrect wording around the indoor density limit for the entertainment industry, which was corrected in a matter of hours,” a statement said.

“We know this has been an extremely difficult time for the entertainment industry and apologise for any inconvenience this caused.”

The road map published on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ Twitter account on Sunday includes entertainment venues, the updated one on the website does not.(Twitter: DHHS)

For Mr Wheatley, the state government’s error would be costly.

“When you say we can do it, we make moves and make choices. We book, we spend money,” he said.

“To give [freedom] and then take it away … is the perfect way to kick the arts when they’re down.”

Arts calling for a road map back

One of the founding members of ‘Save our Scene’ said it was disappointing live events would not be returning this weekend.

“As the rest of society is starting to emerge from COVID, we need to find a way back as well,” Simone Ubaldi told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“The road map for music venues ends at one person per four square metres and a cap of 150, as far as we know, in November — which is no kind of road map back at all.”

Ms Ubaldi said people in the entertainment industry were struggling and still unable to plan for their futures.

“The problem is when everyone else comes out of lockdown we don’t,” she said.

“There are a lot of people in our sector who aren’t just venues — people who run promotions, businesses, publicity businesses, technicians, sole traders, gig workers — who’ve fallen through the cracks completely because their sector has been shut down effectively for 19 months and Jobkeeper ended six months ago.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.WatchDuration: 2 minutes 53 seconds2m 53s Recycling the waste COVID-19 has created(Emilia Terzon)

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