Canberra's struggling live music venues want to get back to 100 per cent capacity, and some feel like restrictions on them should be easing faster.
The ACT government on Thursday announced some cinemas and theatres in Canberra would return to 100 per cent capacity from next Wednesday.
The venues had to have forward-facing and fixed-tiered seating, and the increased capacity would only apply to ticketed and seated events.
The venues also had to have an approved COVID-safety plan, or otherwise remain at 75 per cent capacity.
Meantime, no coronavirus restrictions eased for live music venues, with the government instead inviting businesses to apply for exemptions to restrictions.
Live music venues across the territory were sent an email on Thursday afternoon inviting them to apply for the exemptions to get up to 75 per cent capacity for ticketed events.
The ACT government hadn't sent out such an invitation before Thursday, nor had it specified venues could seek exemptions to use up to 75 per cent of their capacity for ticketed events.
Industry advocate Music ACT's director Daniel Ballantyne welcomed the invitation for venues to apply for exemptions as an opportunity for them to get "good ticketing and good attendance".
However, he said he still wanted to see all Canberra venues at their operating capacity.
"There's been virtually no examples of community transmission in an entertainment, cultural or live performance venue in Australia," Mr Ballantyne said.
"I care very greatly for the opportunities for artists and musicians to perform and we have so few good venues in Canberra. There really is only, at best [and] if you include all the clubs, maybe 20.
"They're all struggling and they all say the same thing, 'We just want our capacity back'."
Mr Ballantyne said he believed the government had "woken up a bit more" in recent weeks to issues to do with Canberra's live music venues.
"That's why they're offering to help with these exemptions," he said.
Mr Ballantyne said businesses and the government had a good dialogue and, while it would have been good for restrictions on live music venues to ease further on Thursday, he recognised they were "unwinding carefully".
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on Thursday said live music venues would not go to 100 per cent capacity for some time.
Under current coronavirus restrictions without the exemptions, venues were limited to having one person for every two square metres, or 25 people - whichever was greater.
If they were granted one of the exemptions, that would increase to three people for every four square metres, or 75 per cent capacity.
Smith's Alternative owner Nigel McRae said that, having seen the new invitation from the government, he would try to get an exemption for every upcoming live show.
"It's still difficult, but I think we can survive with the 75 per cent," he said.
As at Thursday under the automatic coronavirus restrictions, Smith's Alternative had been offering only 50 tickets for each of its live shows, compared with 100 tickets pre-COVID.
"Just today [on Thursday] I had [a band] inquiring about a gig," Mr McRae said.
"I told them the capacity and they said, 'Oh, that won't work sorry'.
"If you have a band coming in from out of state, they have to make a certain amount of money to cover their expenses and you can't do that with that sort of capacity."
Mr McRae said the offer to have up to 75 per cent capacity was reasonable.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the increased capacity for cinemas and indoor performance venues was "another positive step towards our continuing reopening of the economy".
As well as offering venues to apply for exemptions, the ACT government said it would be reaching out to businesses directly in the coming days.
It would also be streamlining and simplifying COVID advice for their venues.
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