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Melbourne lockdown forces MCEC to extend closure

The city’s convention centre to remain closed amid Covid-19 resurgence, while fears of a second wave threaten venues in Sydney

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has extended its temporary closure to 31 August, 2020.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has extended its temporary closure to 31 August, 2020.

AUSTRALIA – A surge in coronavirus cases in Melbourne last week has caused Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to reintroduce stage three restrictions across the city.

The renewed lockdown will be in place for six weeks (until 19 August) and will see the closure of bars, clubs and entertainment and cultural venues. Restaurants, meanwhile, will return to take-away only. The border between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s two largest cities, has also been closed and strict stay-at-home rules apply to Melbourne residents.

The reinstated restrictions have forced the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) to extend its temporary closure — for a third time — to 31 August, 2020.

The extended MCEC closure includes the cancellation of all events, and the venue’s team is reaching out to affected event organisers.

In an statement posted online, the venue said that safety is its number one priority, and the decision has been made in line with the Victorian government’s recent announcement.

“The extended closure will allow more time to develop our VenueSafe plans for our return to business, and to work with the relevant authorities to ensure we are best positioned to provide our employees, customers and visitors with the confidence they need for when our doors reopen,” the statement said.

“We are working hard to ensure MCEC can continue to be Melbourne’s destination for big ideas and inspiring events, by ensuring we have the right public health measures in place when we re-open.”

MCEC has remained closed since March and CEO Peter King said in a previous statement that despite being “devastated” by the decision to close, as business that brings people together the venue has a responsibility to help support efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, tougher capacity restrictions for pubs and venues were reintroduced in Sydney this week following a recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases. Group bookings at pubs across the entire state of NSW will now be reduced from 20 people to 10, and large venues will not be allowed to house more than 300 people.

The move comes after several hospitality venues failed to implement adequate social distancing measures.