After New South Wales recorded its 25th consecutive day without a locally transmitted case of COVID-19, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the next steps toward reaching a ‘COVID normal summer’.
In what Berejiklian described as a “major easing” of coronavirus restrictions, from Monday, the cap on the number of people allowed at hospitality venues will be lifted, and there will be no limit placed on the number of people allowed at weddings or funerals. The four-square-metre density rule will become the two-square-metre rule on Monday, except for gyms and nightclubs.
Patrons will be also able to stand up while drinking outdoors at pubs, but will still need to remain seated while drinking in nightclubs and at indoor pubs.
Though perhaps most exciting is that from Monday, up to 50 people are allowed on a dancefloor at one time – bringing back something that has been sorely been missed by many this year.
“Last year bushfires robbed us of Christmas. Today’s announcement means COVID is not going to rob us of Christmas. Today’s announcement is about bringing us all together,” NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference.
“Obviously nightclubs have been identified internationally as very high-risk venues and that’s because night clubs have a high turnover of people… and obviously with very close proximity.”
One person who is celebrating the return of dancefloors in Sydney is Kat Dopper who heads up Heaps Gay. On Wednesday afternoon and on the spur of the moment, they quickly booked The Coopers Hotel rooftop in Newton to host a (COVIDsafe) dance party next Monday night.
“I’m doing this as a one-off event for enjoyment and for people to have a dance, but until we can really properly lift restrictions it is so hard for producers in the arts, with the numbers, to even cover costs,” Dopper tells Star Observer.
Normally their year would be back-to-back with events and dance parties for the LGBTQI community in Sydney and other cities, including Newcastle and Melbourne. But Dopper like so many within the creative and events industries, had their plans for 2020 decimated by COVID-19 in March.
“Mardi Gras was the last event that Heaps Gay ran before restrictions were put in place back in March,” Dopper recalls. “Since then, our community hasn’t had those safe spaces we create on the dancefloor and that we may not have outside of these spaces. Despite having needed to have these restrictions, it has created a lot of isolation in the LGBTQI community and it has been so hard on our mental health. So, it’s really exciting that the community can come together again in these spaces.”
“Our artists, who generally make a living performing in these spaces, they haven’t been able to do that for so long. So being able to provide them with a platform to start making a living again is just so important. I’m hoping this is the first step because, the new rules in venues around density are really going to help these venues get closer to breaking even and making them more sustainable again,” adds Dopper.
Returning our attention once more to next Monday’s event, aptly titled For The Love Of The Dance, Dopper concludes by saying that, “the event will be free, and anyone who wants to get up and play on the decks can do that. People can come and be colourful, but really it’s just going to feel a bit loose, which is always the best kind of party.”
For more info head to the Facebook events page.