With 2021 offering a fresh set of opportunities for event creators, we’ve put together a round-up of the latest news for the event industry in Australia – from COVID-19 support packages offered by government agencies across the country to examples of events run by professionals who are adapting in order to deliver innovative events.

COVID-19 wrap-up: guidelines, support, and assistance during recovery

This year is off to a promising start for the events industry. In the last quarter of 2020, there were early signs of economic recovery from COVID-19 emerging, with the Reserve Bank of Australia announcing modest growth and forecasting stronger growth ahead. Plus, all federal, state, and territory governments announced support and assistance packages to promote event industry growth in 2021. We’re also looking forward to vaccine rollout, which began in February with the first 300,000 doses already arriving on our shores.

Here’s a state and territory guide to COVID-19 restrictions and the support options available to you. Remember to stay on top of the latest regulations in your area by checking the government’s Healthdirect site.

National

At a national level, the Australian border remains closed to all international arrivals, except those granted an exemption. Artists and event creators who successfully apply for an exemption will need to quarantine on arrival in Australia for two weeks. Each state and territory manages social distancing regulations, lockdown restrictions, and rules related to public events.

Australian Capital Territory

  • All venues must adhere to social distancing guidelines, including the rule of one person per two square metres of usable space in both indoor and outdoor areas. They must also collect the contact details of all patrons upon arrival.
  • All events must have a COVID-19 Safe Event Plan. For events with a capacity between 501 to 1,000 people, creators must notify ACT Health and submit their plan online. The waiting period to receive a response is between two weeks and two months.
  • The ACT Community Event Funding program offers up to $15,000 to support event organisers in delivering events that stick to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

New South Wales (NSW)

In all areas of NSW:

  • All public spaces must have a COVID-19 safe plan in place.The state government’s Dine & Discover NSW program
  • supports events, dining, arts, and tourism businesses by encouraging the community to attend venues and providing them with an extra incentive to do so. From March, NSW residents will be eligible for two $25 vouchers for entertainment and recreation, including visiting cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues.

In Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, and Wollongong:

  • Performances and rehearsals of performing arts can be held outdoors with a maximum of 500 people. All participants must provide their contact details (including their name, plus a phone number or email address).
  • Face masks are mandatory on public transport, including taxis and rideshare services.

Elsewhere in NSW:

  • All venues must apply the rule of one person per two square metres of usable space indoors. They must also collect the contact details of all patrons upon arrival.
  • Performances and rehearsals of performing arts can be held outdoors with a maximum of 3,000 people, subject to the rule of one person per two square metres.

Northern Territory

  • All businesses and venues must adhere to social distancing rules, including the rule of one person per 1.5 square metres of usable space in indoor and outdoor spaces. They must also collect contact details of all patrons upon arrival.
  • All events for over 100 people must have a COVID-19 Event Safety Plan. Those organising events for more than 500 people must seek approval from NT Health.

Queensland

  • Indoor events with under 500 attendees must have a COVID-19 Safe event checklist. Larger events require a COVID-19 safe plan, but there’s no cap on the number of people who can attend. The one person per two square metres rule must have adhered to in all instances (of indoor events).
  • The contact details of all patrons must be collected upon arrival to an indoor event or establishment.
  • Seated, ticketed venues can return to full capacity, including the seated capacity at open-air stadiums.
  • The Queensland Arts Showcase Program (QASP) provides up-front, one-off grants of up to $60,000 to stimulate sector recovery and create new employment opportunities.

South Australia

  • All venues must have a COVID-19 Safe Plan, apply the rule of one person per two square metres in indoor and outdoor spaces, and collect patron contact details upon arrival.
  • An SA-Health-approved COVID-19 Management Plan will be required for an event or public activity with over 1,000 people attending nightclubs and relevant licensed premises.
  • For live performance venues where patrons are in fixed seating, capacities can increase to 75% if patrons wear masks and to 50% where masks are not required to be worn.
  • The Live Music Events Fund offers grants from a $550,000 annual fund to support live music events and festivals.
  • Festivals and venues grants for up to 50% of the total eligible expenses are available for activities that support live performance opportunities for South Australian contemporary music artists.

Tasmania

  • All venues must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, apply the rule of one person per two square metres in indoor and outdoor spaces, and collect patron contact details upon arrival.
  • Venues may host up to 250 people inside and 1,000 people outside. Indoor seated venues are permitted to have up to 75% of their usual seated capacity.
  • Tasmania’s Arts and Cultural Support Fund
  • offers arts organisations and arts businesses up to $10,000 to cover earnings lost due to cancellations due to COVID-19.

Victoria

  • Victoria has implemented a tiered system for public events. All event creators must complete an online assessment to determine the applicable tier for their event, complete the correct COVID-19 Safe Plan before applying the relevant restrictions, and register all public events before the event taking place.
  • At a minimum, all venues must have a COVID Safe Plan, apply the rule of one person per two square metres of usable space in indoor and outdoor settings, and collect patron contact details upon arrival. Fitted face masks must be worn inside, as well as outside, if a 1.5-metre distance can’t be maintained.
  • Seated indoor entertainment spaces are limited to 50% capacity, and seated outdoor spaces are limited to 75% capacity, with each having a cap of 1000 people.
  • The Building Audiences Fund provides one-off support for new projects to re-establish audiences following COVID-19.

Western Australia

  • All businesses and venues must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, apply the rule of one person per two square metres in indoor and outdoor spaces, and collect patron contact details upon arrival.
  • Indoor and outdoor venues must not exceed 75% capacity. 
  • The Arts 15k-plus grant program offers between $15,000 and $60,000 funding for artists, creative industry professionals, and organisations to deliver a one-off event or a program of activity.

Navigating snap lockdowns in your state or territory

COVID-19 rules and regulations across Australia can change quickly, including snap lockdowns and temporary changes to social distancing rules. If a snap lockdown impacts your event, Eventbrite’s COVID-19 Resources for Event Creators guide is great to have on hand for information about cancelling your event, postponing until a later date, or moving online.

Each state or territory also publishes COVID-19 updates for the latest restrictions and changes, along with details of any financial support that may be available to you to cover the costs of cancelling or postponing your event:

Inspiration and further reading

Here in Australia, we’re seeing heaps of venues reopen their doors and creators host events in both indoor and outdoor spaces.

  • The annual Mardi Gras celebration is going ahead in Sydney, with the parade relocating from Oxford Street to the Sydney Cricket Ground. There are also smaller ticketed events being held across the city and harbour, like the Singles Sunset Boast Party. Plus, regional events, such as the Bathurst Mardi Gras are ensuring that people don’t have to travel to the city,
  • Plenty of free recurring events that are great for families, couples, or singles are being held to encourage people to get back out into the community, like the monthly Yoga with Change Yoga and Wellness in the ACT and the Creative Kids library events in Brisbane.
  • In-person networking events are steadily rising, like the Get Gig Ready night in Sydney and Speed Networking event in Melbourne.

The Eventbrite blog is packed with innovative examples of post-COVID-19 events – whether you’re looking for online events ideas or hosting a physical gathering.

For more help with staging in-person events, check out our COVID-19 Safety Playbook.