Eerie Adelaide venues amid coronavirus
It was a Friday night with a difference at Adelaide Casino last weekend, the NT News reports.
It ticked over 11pm on Friday night at the casino and punters were being handed a laminated number as they walked through the doors.
“It’s to keep people below 100,” says a security guard, surrounded by hand sanitiser.
It’s not just a number, but a ticket to an uncertain future for Adelaide’s hospitality industry in the age of Covid-19.
Inside the casino, pokie machines which would normally be rattling with coins have all but gone silent.
Social distancing means that every second machine is offline.
Many of the gaming tables have been shut down, but for the 70 or so players still taking their chance, it is business as usual.
Although, it might not just be money they’re gambling with these days.
The Sunday Mail toured Adelaide’s party hotspot on Hindley Street just hours after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tough measures forcing restaurants, pubs, clubs and other non-essential gatherings to significantly cap the number of patrons it allows to prevent coronavirus spreading.
Neighbouring lane ways, normally heaving with revellers until the wee hours of the morning, are a ghost town with several bars like the popular Electric Circus, Rocket Bar and Mr Kims not opening at all.
Others shut their doors well before midnight.
DJ Shannon Welk is spinning his last tune at Lady Burra Brewhouse Bar and Kitchen in Topham Mall at just after 10pm to a crowd of around a dozen people.
The venue is licenced to 2am.
“Normally this place is packed with people straight after work until it’s closed. I’ve never seen it like this,” he said, whose business supplies DJs around metropolitan Adelaide.
“Every weekend, we have 37 events booked. This weekend, we have three and I think after this weekend we won’t have any.”
The usually long queues outside popular nightclubs Red Square, The Woolshed and Dog and Duck, are non existent.
Offers of free entry not enough to lure customers.
Downtown, which has a capacity of 2,300 people, closes its doors by 10.30pm.
The only outliers were Hindley Street’s shisha bars, which prove popular haunts.
However, social distancing seems to be the last thing concerning some customers who share tobacco pipes as if all was normal.
On Peel Street – often used as a postcard location for the state’s tourism campaigns – hospitality workers are among a couple of dozen enjoying a quiet drink on the largely deserted strip.
“The thing I’m most concerned about is the casual staff base,” one says.
“Hospitality obviously employs a lot of the people in the state and especially a lot of the youth and most of those workers are casual staff.
“As much protection as we can given them and as much as the venues want to help, sometimes there is just no ability to keep staff, which is highly upsetting.”
NZ casinos take action against coronavirus
Casinos across New Zealand have taken action over concerns about the spread of coronavirus, including shutting down a number of games and ramping up cleaning procedures.
Stuff NZ reported last week that venues in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown have made a number of changes to operations around the time Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced large gatherings should be abandoned.
Ardern said gatherings of 500 or more people should be cancelled to try to prevent the community spread of coronavirus.
The chief executive of SkyCity Entertainment Group, which owns three casinos across New Zealand said that SkyCity was able to control the number of people at its venues.
“Our business is similar to a shopping centre in that we have a number of smaller venues within a larger precinct,” Graeme Stephens said.
“In the case of SkyCity, we can control the decisions for each venue across the entire precinct.”
The main changes include player numbers at tables being reduced to five, some machines being turned off to ensure a safe distance between people, a ramp-up of cleaning services and an increase in hand sanitisers for staff and guests.