While the NSW Government is now easing COVID-19 restrictions, allowing up to 10 patrons to dine at any one time in a small bar, Sydney’s LGBTQI nightlife is still in the clutches of a proverbial purgatory.

Under the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, as many as ten patrons will now be allowed to dine at any one time in a small bar, as long as the one person per four-square-meter rule is followed.

However, many clubs, pubs and restaurants, including some of Sydney’s most iconic LGBTQI venues are deciding to wait for round two of restriction-easing before they choose to re-open their doors. Mainly, due to an inability to operate as a functional space, or due to an apparent loss of income from only being able to serve ten people at a time.

In a statement made to their Facebook page, The Stonewall Hotel in Darlinghurst made clear that while they’re eager to re-open, patrons will have to wait until at least the second wave of restriction-easing before their doors re-open.

“Thank you for all the love and support you have been sending us since we closed and we are doing everything we can to stay connected with our wonderful community. We miss everyone like crazy and look forward to the day we can all have a safe fun time together at Stonewall,” ‘The Stonewall Gang’ wrote.

“Yesterday the Government announced they are easing the restrictions and allowing bars to admit 10 dinning customers at a time.

“We love everyone contacting us regarding opening this weekend, but unfortunately, we will have to wait for further restrictions to be eased in order to open Stonewall Hotel.

“Once restrictions are lifted, we’ll be back opening our doors to the Stonewall you know and love.

“Unfortunately, the restrictions as they stand make it too hard for us to operate and give you the Stonewall experience. We hope you understand and we promise the fun of Stonewall will return.”

LGBTQI venues across the world have been hit hard following the global restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected 4.2 million people, killed almost 300,000 and is likely to trigger a global recession.

For some smaller venues, permanent closure has been the only option, with other venues now struggling to make ends meet while paying vital bills and wages in the currently mummified economy.

Despite government grants and exemptions, venues that have remained closed for an extended period will undoubtedly struggle financially with adopting social distancing practices when they re-open.

Over to the inner-west, The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville (The Impy) is also waiting until business can resume as-usual before they decide to reignite their dancefloors.

“Hey lovers, We can’t wait to swing open our doors again, turn on the mirror ball and welcome you all back. Sadly we can’t do that just yet,” The Impy said via it’s Facebook.

“A big warm thanks to all of our loyal customers who have been checking in with us since the government announcement around the easing of restrictions tomorrow.

“Unfortunately for us the restrictions still in place make it too difficult for us to deliver the Impy experience you have come to know and love.

“Once restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks, we’ll be back dancing on the bar top and look forward to celebrating all of this with you again. Stay tuned for more info.

“Thank you for your continued love and support xx.”

Over in Redfern and the iconic queer pub, The Bearded Tit (The Tit) is taking the same approach, citing financial implications and an inability to “come together” as the reason for holding off their re-opening.

“Some of you have inquired if we will open this Friday with the new rule allowing 10 people in pubs and clubs, The Bearded Tit wrote on Facebook.

“We have missed seeing all of you since the lockdown, however it is financially unviable for us to open if we are only able to serve 10 people at a time.

“We will open again when all of us are able to fill this space, because the Tit is about people coming TOGETHER, and that’s a bit hard to do when we’re 4m2 away from each other.”

The Solotel Group, the generational family of publicans who own some of Sydney’s most iconic LGBTQI venues including The Bank Hotel, Darlo Bar, The Courthouse Hotel and The Greenpark Hotel, are attempting to re-open “in line with the government announcements.”

However, the CEO of the Solotel Group, Justine Baker, confirmed with Star Observer that the group is still focussing on take-away options, and will look at more concrete plans to re-open once further easings are announced.

“We are planning our re-opening in line with the government announcements, to ensure continuity of business through these stages. Our priorities are the health and safety of our community and team and rebuilding the business to a viable model where we can restart employment,” she said.

“There is a lot of effort, planning and capital needed to get a venue open again and right now we need to make sure the decisions we make are viable and safe for everyone involved.

“Ideally, we need to understand what’s beyond stage 3 and will work with industry bodies and government to understand this so we can see a path out of our current environment. The answer is simple, less restrictions means more jobs.

“We need a clear plan and a less restrictive environment well before the current Job Keeper deadline of the end of September, so the industry doesn’t fall over again.”


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