It’s Groundhog Day again in Victoria, where strict new COVID-19 rules come into play that include a ban on indoor dance floors.

From late Wednesday, dance spaces within hospitality and entertainment venues must close, one of several new measures introduced by the Victorian Government to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

For the time being, venues can still operate and there are no changes to the indoor density settings.

It’s all part of “a sensible step to reduce the risks of the virus spreading,” reads a government statement.

For the state’s once-vibrant music scene, it’s another low blow.

“To be honest, once the DQ2 restrictions came into effect last week, that closed our band rooms, explains Simone Schinkel, Chief Executive Officer of peak body Music Victoria.

Simone Schinkel
Simone Schinkel

DQ2, a density quotient of one person per 2 square metres, equates to 30% of attendance, “so it’s just not viable to be putting on gigs,” she continues.

Victorians know more than most about lockdowns. In October last year, Melburnians emerged from the longest-lockdown for any city on earth, an unwanted record prised from Buenos Aires.

All told, locals spent 260 cumulative days cooped up.

“We just hope that all these restrictions will have the desired effect, and quickly, and that we can work together with government to find a way to do what we do safely,” says Schinkel of the latest measures. “And in the meantime… our industry needs support from all levels of government because we’re all out of work, again.”

Last year’s stay-at-home orders had a measurable knock on effect across the state’s music industry, which, according to Live Performance Australia’s annual ticketing data, saw Victoria report the greatest decline in attendance, down 79%, and the second-highest decline in revenue, down 75%.

Victorians love a show, and in a typical year, they spend $94.19 on tickets to live performance, the highest spend per capita in the country.

During the pandemic, that figure fell to $23.76, the 2019 and 2020 Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report finds.

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