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By Sarah Ward
March 18, 2020
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Palace Is Closing All of Its Australian Cinemas for an Indefinite Period

And this year's Sydney Film Festival has been cancelled, too.
By Sarah Ward
March 18, 2020
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The response to COVID-19 in Australia doesn't just change by the day, but by the hour and even minute, as the country endeavours to stave off the spread of the coronavirus throughout the community. Indeed, already today, Wednesday, March 18, the Australian Government has banned non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and effectively scrapped all international travel from our shores. Now, we're now seeing our first national cinema closures as well.

Palace Cinemas has just announced that it is shutting down all of its Australian venues from Thursday, March 19. Like many other closures across the arts and entertainment industry at present, this is a temporary but currently indefinite shuttering — with a re-opening date to be determined as the situation progresses.

In a statement emailed to customers and available on the chain's website, Palace said that it made the decision after it "reviewed advice from the Australian Government regarding non-essential services and public gathering mandates, as well as examined safety concerns for our patrons and staff".

Venues affected include Palace Norton Street, Verona, Central and The Chauvel Cinema in Sydney, as well as Palace Byron Bay; Palace Cinema Como, Balwyn, Brighton Bay, Westgarth, Palace Dendy Brighton, The Kino and The Astor Theatre in Melbourne; Palace Barracks and James St in Brisbane; Palace Electric in Canberra; and Palace Raine Square and Cinema Paradiso in Perth.

As a result, all Palace screening events and Palace-organised film festivals are also obviously currently on hold — including the cancellation of the remainder of this year's Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, which Palace doesn't run but many of its venues host.

Palace ticket holders will be contacted regarding refunds if they booked online, and are asked to contact their relevant cinema if they booked in-person.

It's highly likely that more Aussie cinema chains will also close, especially with such a large number of films postponing their upcoming releases. No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Fast and Furious 9, Mulan, The New Mutants, Black Widow, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, The Woman in the Window, Antebellum, Peter Rabbit 2, Trolls World Tour and The Secret Garden were all due to hit screens between mid-March and late May, but have now delayed their plans.

The news of Palace's temporary closures came on a big day for the Australian film industry, with the Sydney Film Festival cancelling its entire 2020 festival, which was scheduled to run from June 3–14. It's the first time in the fest's 67-year history — so since it started in 1954 — that the huge annual celebration of cinema has been scrapped. The festival will return in 2021.

Palace Cinemas across Australia will close from Thursday, March 19. For further details, visit the chain's website.

To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website.

Published on March 18, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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