Delaney Carroll, Sacha Bono at Havana R&B nightclub on Surfers Paradise party strip Orchid Ave before it was shut down by coronavirus restrictions.
Delaney Carroll, Sacha Bono at Havana R&B nightclub on Surfers Paradise party strip Orchid Ave before it was shut down by coronavirus restrictions.

PM’s office weighs in on nightclub’s reopening plans

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office says a Gold Coast nightclub's plan to reopen tonight is up to the Queensland Government, not him.

A week after the Prime Minister called for the country to start opening up the economy but said nightclubs were "not on the agenda", Surfers Paradise R&B party spot Havana is reopening for 100 patrons.

It comes after Havana general manager Tim Martin said the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation clarified nightclubs could reopen if they stuck to 20 people per "area", had no dancefloor operating and no mingling outside of "family or social groups".

Asked about the nightclub reopening seven days after he said it was not on his radar, Mr Morrison's office told the Bulletin this afternoon: "National Cabinet agreed a three step process for easing restrictions. Each jurisdiction is responsible for their own implementation.

"When Queensland eases these restrictions is a matter for them."

Kiwi artist Stan Walker performs an impromptu set at Havana before it was forced to close. Picture: Havana Facebook
Kiwi artist Stan Walker performs an impromptu set at Havana before it was forced to close. Picture: Havana Facebook

Havana, on the tourism hub party strip Orchid Ave, will throw open its doors from 9pm until late for up to 100 people.

It is a watershed moment nine weeks after the hospitality industry was shut down by unprecedented restrictions in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Havana general manager and Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Tim Martin said last night he was made aware of an official state roadmap stage two change allowing nightclubs to trade again.

Havana R&B nightclub general manager Tim Martin is reopening the Glitter Strip nightclub tonight. Picture: Jerad Williams
Havana R&B nightclub general manager Tim Martin is reopening the Glitter Strip nightclub tonight. Picture: Jerad Williams

But strict conditions meant nightclubs - now allowed 20 people per defined area - could not operate a dance floor and patrons must stick to their family or social group and not mingle outside it.

The official Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation update says any holder of a nightclub licence can, under stage two, "serve food and drink on a seated, separated and served basis".

"Can't provide normal nightclub entertainment services such as dance floors or live bands," the advisory adds.

On patron limits, it says a maximum of 20 are allowed under a COVID Safe Checklist or 20 per "defined area" if operating under a Queensland Hotel and Clubs Industry COVID Safe Plan.

The one person per four square metres of space rule applies.

Tim Martin on Havana reopening for 100 patrons who can’t dance or co-mingle outside their groups: “But it’s going to be an amazing experience. People are ready to go out, we are ready to provide the entertainment and it’s time to move on.” Picture: Jerad Williams
Tim Martin on Havana reopening for 100 patrons who can’t dance or co-mingle outside their groups: “But it’s going to be an amazing experience. People are ready to go out, we are ready to provide the entertainment and it’s time to move on.” Picture: Jerad Williams

 

But people from the same household or social group can occupy the same or adjacent table and do not need to be seated 1.5m apart, the advisory says.

Venues must collect names, addresses and mobile phones of attendees.

It is a stunning about face a week on from Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling the nation nightclubs were "not on the agenda".

Last Friday, after a National Cabinet meeting, he said: "In terms of nightclubs, that is not on the agenda. We have seen overseas that has been one of the areas of failure when nightclubs have opened.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison a week ago said nightclubs were “not on the agenda”. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison a week ago said nightclubs were “not on the agenda”. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

"And Michael Gunner the chief minister in the Northern Territory today noted that even though that is not prohibited, the application of the 1.5 square metre rule distancing means that venues have not opened there because it is just not commercially practical to do so I wouldn't anticipate those venues opening any time soon or those larger mass gathering festivals and events that take place."

But Mr Martin said the green light for nightclubs comes after there had obviously been "blow back" about other hospitality venues such as restaurants and bars being able to trade.

Havana, which pre COVID-19 had capacity for 500, would open Friday and Saturday nights for up to 100 patrons with week nights added if demand was there: "People can't dance, it's table service only. They can drink while seated.

Teniel Walters, Rachel Whitting at Havana in Surfers Paradise before coronavirus pandemic restrictions forced it to close.
Teniel Walters, Rachel Whitting at Havana in Surfers Paradise before coronavirus pandemic restrictions forced it to close.

"But it's going to be an amazing experience. People are ready to go out, we are ready to provide the entertainment and it's time to move on," Mr Martin said.

Havana would welcome back about 15 relieved staff from managers, wait staff and security.

It will also offer VIP bottle service trading in the early hours, he said.

\Mr Martin said as well as facing a "huge day" to get Havana ready to trade again at such short notice, he was planning to communicate to fellow Surfers venues how they could reopen with a COVID Safe Plan in place.

The short notice was unhelpful, he said, adding: "I will give OLGR credit, they have been pretty good with their updates.

"This is welcome news but why are we told last minute all the time, why do we find out the night before that we can trade again, why not two weeks?"

 

Originally published as PM's office weighs in on nightclub's reopening plans


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