18 January, 2022
Casualty of Covid
COVID-19 has claimed another scalp, with the iconic Majestic Theatre at Malanda shutting its doors on Wednesday due to the impacts of the State Government’s mandates and rules – and owners Bernie and Charmaine Rayner warn it may never open again.
The historic theatre – Australia’s oldest cinema – has been suffering for the past two years due to the impacts of the pandemic, but Mr Rayner says it is the State Government’s mandate against unvaccinated people entering the cinema that has really killed their business.
“On 17 December, when Anastacia Palaszczuk's vaccine mandate was introduced, we lost close to 25 per cent of our audience because there is a large unvaccinated group in this area,” he said.
“The mask mandate cost us another 7-10 per cent. Some people are just not prepared to wear a mask when they go out socialising - they will tolerate it for the supermarket or bottle shop, but not for a pub or cinema.”
Mr Rayner said comments from the Premier in relation to not socialising and staying at home had cost them more patrons.
“Additionally, we have had to employ extra staff to enforce her vaccine mandate,” he said.
“We could have lived with the mask mandate, but the ill-conceived and ill-considered vaccine mandate has killed the Majestic Cinema as it is killing numerous small businesses across the State.
“Typical of governments, they have not considered the ramifications of their decisions and its impact on many small businesses. And the Queensland Government does not have the decency to offer any financial support whatsoever.”
Mr Rayner said the mandates had effectively discriminated against businesses such as his.
“Not only have the unvaccinated been discriminated against by the Queensland government, but in reality, the entire hospitality and cinema industry has been discriminated against unfairly by this action,” he said.
“Cinemas, pubs, restaurants can only employ vaccinated people and only accept vaccinated patrons when there are stacks of other non-essential business types that are free to trade to anyone, including new and used car showrooms, bottle shops, fashion boutiques, camping shops, food courts, indoor markets, and nail salons to name but a few.
“The actions of the Queensland government have basically destroyed what was a very viable business and our livelihood.
“The Majestic Cinema opened in 1929. It survived the Great Depression, the second world war, the arrival of television in the mid- 50s, the onslaught of drive-ins in the late 50s and 60s, the advent of colour TV in the 70s, the novelty of video home entertainment in the 80s, the advanced technology of DVDs in the 90s, the streaming services from the mid-2000s, and the initial shock of Covid in 2020 and 2021, but finally Annastacia Palaszczuk has managed to kill it off with her Covid mandate.
“What a tragic shame for this iconic cinema.”
Mr Rayner said it had become abundantly clear during the pandemic that Premier Palaszczuk and her government were “only interested in the big end of town and sports and entertainment celebrities – and they could not care one little bit about small business and the regions”.
“It will only really be viable to reopen the cinema, once all restrictions end and all people are free to attend all venues, like they are in New South Wales and the ACT.”
“If this takes a long time – say 6-15 months – then I guess it will be the end of the historic Majestic.”