Today is the start of new era. Spoiler alert: it could get rough from here.

On Friday, prime minister Scott Morrison announced tough new rules on mass gatherings, an enforceable federal directive aimed at stalling the spread of the Coronavirus.
Those rules came into effect overnight.

Beat up or not, Coronavirus is kicking every industry in the pants. Unless you’re in the TP business, best you brace yourself.

With immediate effect, national bans are in place on all non-essential gatherings of 500 or more people and strict new travel policies have been actioned.

The travel industries will take a pounding. The live entertainment and sports sectors are facing an uncertain future. Your favourite teams at least have the opportunity to play to empty arenas, with major broadcast networks catching all the action for those us back home. Your fave bands and venues don’t have that luxury.

“This is an unprecedented crisis and will have a catastrophic impact on jobs and revenue as shows and festivals across the country are cancelled. What we need now is a timeframe so companies can plan for closure,” warns Evelyn Richardson, CEO of Live Performance Australia.

“The brutal reality is that many performing arts companies do not have the financial reserves to ride out a period of enforced closure. Knowing now if we are planning for a one, two or three-month closure period is vital.

Never miss industry news

Get the latest music industry news, insights, and updates straight to your inbox. Learn more

“Our preliminary numbers indicate that over three months, half a billion dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs will be lost. Companies across the country have been running solvency tests all weekend.”

$25M in reported lost income10,000 gigs cancelled84,000 people impactedAnd that's what we've heard in just 24…

Posted by Australian Festival Association onSaturday, 14 March 2020

In times of crisis, messages are garbled. This is a time of crisis. And like clockwork, Morrison’s government has handed out a bag of mixed messages.

The government launched a $30 million multi-media campaign preaching the gospel on good hygiene during these strange times. Gigs are off, but schools are open. Will an official stand at the entrance of your local with a tally counter?

TIO takes a look at where we are and what we know.

What’s going on?

The ban on “non-essential” entertainment events is serious. Flout the rules, you’ll be slapped with a fine. Or something harder.

The rules are implemented at state and territory level, and punishments vary.

In New South Wales, new special state powers are in place to enforce these rules. Event organisers who failed to comply could face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $11,000.

In Queensland, people who have been told to self-isolate due to COVID-19 will be fined $13,000 if they don’t comply.

The Western Australian government has warned of “severe fines” for people who breached the self-isolation rules.

The ban, however, doesn’t apply to schools, universities, shops, airports and “workplaces.” And at this stage, its unclear for how long the ban on “non-essential gatherings” will remain in place. Live Performance Australia is asking for answers on this pressing question.

This being Australia, the rules aren’t uniform. In NSW, the ban on mass gatherings is set for three months. In Victoria, it’s one month.

On Wednesday, Morrison issued a string of updates. Among them, a block on mass gatherings of 100 or more would apply to indoor venues, while outdoor venues can host no more than 500 people. Exclusions apply (schools, office buildings, supermarkets, prisons and more).

Arrivals, departures

Those holidays you booked are pretty much shredded. Several European territories are in lockdown, including Spain, Italy and France. Getting home is the hard part.

Everyone arriving in Australia will be required will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone arriving on a cruise ship is in for a long stint on the sidelines, at least 30 days.

Hang on, help is on its way

Live Performance Australia is lobbying government on behalf of the live entertainment sector.

Its CEO has communicated with government to set aside a pot from its multi-billion-dollar bailout package.

“Our industry needs support now, and it will also need a recovery plan for the months ahead when we reactivate,” Richardson said in a statement issued Sunday.

“We look forward to working with government in the days ahead to get this into place as a matter of urgency.”

Richardson will try get some answers when she participates in an industry roundtable today with the Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher.

Just how bad is it?

The Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festivals Association have joined forces to measure the impact on the live community, via I Lost My Gig.
By Sunday, more than $25 million was reported lost income, 10,000 gigs cancelled and 84,000 people were impacted. “And that’s what we’ve heard in just 24 hours,” a statement reads.

“We are still collating data and stories from the Creative Industries, trying to track the seemingly immeasurable impact on our sector. These stories will be used so our voices are heard and action is taken to support an industry that makes people happy.”

Industries powered by temporary and freelance staff are paring back for the winter. The music and media industries are among those in the firing line.

Late Friday, Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment announced a number of concerts through the end of March will “no longer be able to proceed as scheduled” as a result of the government’s COVID-19 directive. Earlier, CMC Rocks QLD 2020 was scrapped.

Live Nation and AEG, the two giants of global touring, have already halted all tours.

At the time of writing, the number of Australians infected with COVID-19 was reported at 250, with 5 deaths. The number of actual cases could be much higher.

Alternative reality

In the aftermath of the SXSW cancellation, Sounds Australia came up with the novel idea of a live streamed event, to throw some limelight onto those Australian artists that SXSW programmers had selected to showcase in Austin, Texas. Live streams will never replicate the experience of a noisy, sweaty show, with sticky carpets and a beer in a plastic cup. But it’s better than the alternative.

3 for the Stream has since been scrapped. A statement from Sounds Australia reads: “This morning, Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of emergency for Victoria, therefore we have decided that it would be irresponsible to proceed with our planned 3 For The Stream event in Melbourne this Friday, at a time when authorities are stressing the need for social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

For more information on coronavirus, visit health.gov.au. And for the ongoing efforts of the live industry, visit LPA, AFA and I Lost My Gig.