Nightclub revellers slammed for playing ‘Russian roulette’
BRISBANE revellers were spotted flouting social distancing rules as they celebrated the second weekend of eased coronavirus restrictions, prompting health authorities to slam partygoers in tightly packed queues as playing "Russian roulette" with their families' lives.
Thrilled punters packed Fortitude Valley as the party precinct's venues struggled to contain hundreds who packed into queues, while others even took to cordoned-off dance floors.
While many were well-behaved as they basked in the glory of the city's revitalised nightlife, AMA Queensland president Dr Chris Perry issued a stern warning to those blatantly ignoring social distancing measures, saying the impact could be deadly.
He said people getting too close to fellow partygoers meant playing "Russian roulette" with their grandparents' lives.
"If they want to see their parents and their grandparents dying very, very bad deaths, go ahead, be selfish," he said.
"Nightclubs need to be told you need to have social distancing when customers are waiting outside. You need to have social distancing everywhere, at the bar and in lines, so you have people standing a metre-and-a-half apart when they're queuing - or you get closed. It's very simple."
It comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was "disappointed" to learn revellers were continuing to dance in nightclubs.
Although Queensland's Public Health Act states people must physically distance themselves 1.5m away from persons from a separate party where possible, many were seen ignoring the law at the weekend.
The Courier-Mail observed a long, tightly packed queue outside Prohibition nightclub, with patrons who were "honestly not too worried" about distancing rules. Big lines were also seen outside The Beat Megaclub.The Courier-Mailhas contacted Prohibition and The Beat for comment. Nearby, Ric's Backyard also attracted large lines that snaked down the Valley Mall and Ann St.
A spokeswoman from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) said they observed significant queuing by patrons seeking to gain entry to licensed venues that had reached their maximum capacity at the weekend.
"Efforts were made by staff of licensed venues to have those in queues physically distance, but these were not always successful to achieve sustained changes in patron behaviour," the spokeswoman said.
"OLGR officers engaged with representatives at venues over the weekend regarding queuing issues and will continue to do so during the week ahead."
The Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming wrote to all Queensland licensees on Friday with suggestions to help control queue lengths.
There were 31 venue checks by OLGR and the Queensland Police Service across Brisbane CBD and Fortitude Valley, with four venues provided with education relating to minor issues that were identified, while another venue will be subject to further investigation relating to the failure to record patron details.
On Saturday, Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said education and communication were the immediate goals following the relaxed restrictions.
The commissioner's comments follow an eye-watering fine for popular Coolangatta venue Moxy's Rooftop Bar, which was slapped with a $6672.50 infringement notice on Friday July 3 for failing to comply with directions and failing to keep patron detail contract register.
In Sydney, the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay copped a $5500 fine from NSW Liquor and Gaming after crowds were pictured queuing outside. Meanwhile, Mrs Brown's Bar and Kitchen owners Tarryn McMullen and Ben Brown said that both the patron and the venue had a very important role to play in the coming weeks, as the potential for venue closure looms over the hospitality industry.
"It's important for operators to do the right thing and also on our customers and guests too," Mrs McMullen said.
"I think every venue owner's heart broke this week when Melbourne had to shut down … There's a real risk that could happen here. It is imperative that we all do the right thing, which is also on the customer side of things as well."
For the most part, venues continued to do the right thing inside their establishments at the weekend.
Ric's Backyard security guards repeatedly warned and eventually ejected revellers from the venue who were determined to dance.
Stringent security also quickly evicted The Courier Mail for "taking photos" inside the premises.
Retro's bar staff patrolled a deserted dancefloor, swiftly and mercilessly removing anyone disobeying COVID laws. "I just want to dance," one man yelled as he was escorted from Retro's by security.
According to one couple, they were reportedly "kicked out for bobbing" inside Prohibition nightclub, which is determined not to repeat the sins of last weekend, after a video was leaked allegedly showing the venue's dancefloor packed, in flagrant violation of COVID restrictions.
A spokesperson for the Premier's office said "the Premier is disappointed" to learn revellers were still dancing in nightclubs.
"She says social distancing is part of our new normal. We all have to play our part," the spokesperson said.
While LNP leader Deb Frecklington praised the work of Queenslanders so far, she said "we mustn't become complacent".
Originally published as Nightclub revellers slammed for playing 'Russian roulette'