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Doctors, industry anger over video of nightclub flouting distancing laws

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Footage of revellers dancing shoulder to shoulder at a Brisbane club has sparked high-level anxiety that some states have eased coronavirus restrictions too soon.

 

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The Australian Medical Association is alarmed by the footage, allegedly taken at Prohibition on Friday night, just hours after pubs and clubs reopened on the proviso their dance floors remain closed.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says police are investigating the Fortitude Valley club to determine if the licensee breached COVID-19 restrictions.

But AMA President Dr Tony Bartone says the government should be re-assessing the relaxation of restrictions.

“Clearly social distancing was the last thing on the minds of those people who frequented those venues on the weekend,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“It’s too soon, too much of a return back to normality.”

He says a nationwide pause on the easing of coronavirus restrictions is the only sensible move amid Victoria’s worsening outbreak.

But the Queensland hospitality industry is worried it will be punished as a whole for the actions of one or two non-compliant venues.

Fortitude Valley Safe Night Precinct president Jason Hirt said all Valley licensees knew dance floors were off-limits to patrons.

“There were messages among the owners yesterday (Saturday), all appalled and outraged, regarding it,” Mr Hirt told AAP.

“We are all playing by the rules and getting it right, so we are very disappointed.

“Everyone is aware the dance floor is off-limits and we’re hoping it doesn’t affect anyone else.”

Queensland Hotels Association CEO Bernie Hogan was quick to distance his organisation from the nightclub precinct, saying none of his members were located in the Valley.

“Hotels and clubs are desperate to keep operating so the actions of one or two should not impact the rest of the hospitality industry,” he told AAP.

“It’s clear that dance floors are not to function at the present time.”

Ms Palaszczuk said that from the reports she had received the majority of licensees abided by the rules.

“It is unfortunate that some did breach those rules so that’s a matter for police,” she told reporters.

“If they have breached those COVID-safe plans there could be fines imposed.”

Last week, a bar in Roma was fined $6672 after plain-clothes police pointed out several breaches, including failure to collect contact details.

Valley licensees and stakeholders are meeting with police and government officials on Wednesday.

No new cases were recorded in Queensland overnight, with just one active case remaining.

-AAP

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