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Comedian on stage at Lido Comedy Club
Photograph: Graham Denholm

New Zealand’s first live shows hint at what gigs might look like in Australia

Future live shows might feature temperature checks, bubble seating and lots of hand sanitiser
Written by
Nicola Dowse

As we slowly emerge from two months of stay-at-home restrictions, Australians are gradually (or soon will be) able to return to restaurants, pubs, parks and some semblance of normal life. 

But what of concerts and gigs? Live shows were the first to be shut, meaning it’s possible they will also be the last to reopen. And when they do reopen it’s likely there will be some changes for health and safety reasons. 

Across the Tasman, New Zealand has been a world leader in navigating the situation, effectively eliminating transmission within the country. It’s allowed the country to resume regular activities earlier than most, including live shows. Live Nation, one of the world’s biggest live entertainment promoters and operators, has launched a series of small concerts in New Zealand that hint at what live events might look like here in coming months.

The Together Again concerts are a series of small live events happening weekly in Auckland from May 29. The concerts are promising “a rotating line-up of local musicians, comedians and performers”, including the hilarious Urzila Carlson, as well as some pretty stringent health and safety measures that could be indicative of what’s to come in Australia.

On arrival, concert-goers will have their temperatures taken and must register their details, in case they are needed for contact tracing (this is similar to rules governing the reopening of NSW’s galleries and museums). Staff will be suited up with face masks and disposable gloves, and hand sanitiser will be available at high-contact spots across the venue. The venue will be cleaned thoroughly before, during and after the concert, and at the conclusion of the gig, patrons will be ushered out row by row.

Most interesting is the implementation of “bubble seating”. You may sit with the “bubble” of people with whom you arrive, but each bubble must sit separately from others. For the Together Again shows, the bubble can be between one to four people, and they must purchase tickets as one group to be seated together. They also have to enter the building together – that is, anyone in the group arriving early will have to wait for the full group to arrive. Bubbles are seated one metre apart at tables, and patrons can order food and drinks via a mobile app, have it delivered to their table, then pay through contactless means.

Just when Australians will be able to attend live shows again is still unknown. In Victoria, all museums, galleries, music venues and theatres are currently closed, while NSW has announced the reopening of galleries and museums from June 1.

NSW has announced recreational regional travel can resume from June 1.

Which means Victoria might soon be able to holiday over the border.

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