The national cabinet has announced a three-stage plan and national framework to reopen Australia, with prime minister Scott Morrision wanting the economy to return, safely, to normal by July. While the timeline for this plan is determined by individual state governments, it does give us an insight into when our arts industry can cautiously begin to open.
According to the national framework, creative venues will most likely be able to reopen once we reach stage two. This stage (which could be reached at different times in each state) explicitly states the reopening of galleries and cinemas, as well as gyms, beauty salons and amusement parks.
Under this stage, gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted at home, in businesses or out in public. This means that creative venues could be able to reopen, but they might have to cap the number of people in the space. The national framework does not mention theatres specifically, but it does single out cinemas, so live theatre venues might be subject to the same rules if they limit gatherings to 20. Otherwise, larger gatherings of 100 people will not be permitted until states reach stage three of the framework.
As of June 1 in Victoria, galleries as well as museums and cultural venues are allowed to reopen with physical distancing measures in place. Only 20 people will be allowed "per space" and visitor contact details will be taken. Each venue will have density requirements applied which allows for foursquare metres of space per person.
While these venues are allowed to reopen on June 1, whether they do reopen on that date is at the discretion of each individual venue. Museums Victoria (which encompasses Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum) has stated that its current closure is until June 30, and it will not reopen its venues until it's "satisfied that all necessary measures are in place" in regards to health and safety. Drive-in cinemas (not regular cinemas) will also be allowed to operate from June 1.
Then, should transmission rates remain low, Victoria will look to allow cinemas, theatres and concert venues to reopen from June 22. There would still be distancing measures in place (like guests not in the same household being seated 1.5 metres from each other) and a max of 50 people allowed in each separate space. These dates are subject to change in line with advice from the chief health officer.
Australia’s creative industries contribute approximately $111 billion to the country every year, and they employ about 600,000 people.