Hundreds of people are isolating after potentially being exposed to the Omicron coronavirus strain at two Melbourne gay bars.
A person who has tested positive for the strain visited Sircuit in Fitzroy from 9 pm and The Peel Hotel in Collingwood between midnight and 3 am on Friday evening.
The health department said that anyone who have attended the venues must be tested and immediately quarantine themselves.
Fully vaccinated people must quarantine for seven days, and people who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said authorities were particularly concerned about potential transmission at club venues, ABC News has reported.
“Certainly we’ve always known that crowded indoor places where people exert themselves, dancing, singing, shouting, whatever, are higher risk for transmission, so there’s a risk of superspreading,” said Sutton.
“And even though everyone is fully vaccinated and has that assurance that they’re much, much less likely to get severe illness, the risk of transmission remains in settings like that.”
Tom McFeely, owner of The Peel, said that he had recently felt optimistic that business could begin returning to normal after almost two years of period lockdowns.
“And then… my God, it came back with a bang,” McFeely said.
“It’s one of these things, but I thought we were trying to live with this thing [COVID-19].
“It’s unfortunate that small businesses like myself and Sircuit Bar have to suffer the consequences of this.”
Drag performer Jacqui Meoff, who performed at Sircuit Bar on Friday night, said the venue had been enforcing its safety requirements.
“Sircuit is very proactive, and their security staff, their bouncers, they make sure everyone does check in on the way in,” she said.
Community organisations have launched support programs to assist LGBTIQA+ people through the difficulties of the pandemic and lockdowns.
The Australian Government Department of Health has current information and guidelines available about COVID-19.