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Not The Bee has posted this commentary with a screenshot of some kind of an official WA authorities account claiming that dancing at private parties is not permitted:

Screenshot

I tried to verify if this is the case and I found this info page, where the following information is listed:

Certain high-risk music events are not permitted as dancing is banned

Dancing is not permitted except at weddings.

It's not clear but it could be interpreted that it is also forbidden at private parties. Is it?

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    "No dancing? Guess we'll have to go straight to the orgy then."
    – Deepak
    Jan 1 at 18:12
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    I like how the article URL (but not the article title or body) thinks WA = Washington state, USA. :P
    – DLosc
    Jan 1 at 19:09
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    @DLosc The author probably saw "WA Government" and thought Washington state at first, then forgot to change the URL between when they figured out it was Western Australia and when they hit the publish button in WP. WP defaults the URL to being based on the title, but it doesn't change the URL when you change the title, even before publishing.
    – reirab
    Jan 1 at 20:02
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Indeed, there is a state-government ban on dancing under certain conditions in Western Australia covering the 2021/2022 new year. The relevant legislation states:

These directions come into effect at 6.00am on Tuesday 28 December 2021 and continue in effect until 6.00am on Tuesday 4 January 2022.

Prohibition on music events and dancing ...

  1. A person must not engage in dancing at premises in the affected area other than: (a) if it occurs at a wedding; or (b) at a home where the participants are all members of the same household.
  2. A person who owns, controls or operates premises in the affected area must not allow a person to engage in dancing at those premises other than where it occurs in the circumstances set out in paragraphs 8(a) and 8(b).

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACT 2005 (WA) (pdf; screenshots: 1 2)

And here is a press release:

Following four days of public health and social measures and nine local COVID-19 cases in addition to case 1133 detected so far, linked to the Perth Mess Hall outbreak, the acting Chief Health Officer has advised Perth and Peel will need to continue public health and social measures to keep WA safe.

The following public health and social measures will continue from 6am Tuesday morning, December 28 until 6am Tuesday morning, January 4 (pending the latest health advice):

  • Music festivals and large high-risk events remain cancelled, dancing (except for weddings) is banned and nightclubs remained closed; and ...

Public health and social measures to continue until January 4, Government of Western Australia, media statement, 27 December 2021.

Similar claims can be found on other WA government webpages here ("dancing (except for weddings) is banned"), here ("Dancing is not permitted except at weddings."), and here ("Dancing is not permitted except at weddings.").

The Facebook comments are real and can be seen here. Here's my screenshot:

screenshot of the relevant Facebook comments
Facebook screenshot taken January 1, 2022 (click to enlarge).

In the same thread, the WA Government Facebook account also makes some "clarifying" comments:

screenshot of the relevant Facebook comments
Facebook screenshot taken January 1, 2022 (click to enlarge).

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    Of course, these kinds of regulations are enforceable only in the most egregious breach, and these are more targeted at organized dancing, like Latin or Ballroom Dance classes - so dance with people in your house, yes, but don't bring other people over
    – David M
    Jan 2 at 11:00
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    @DavidM Sure - then why is it worded to usurp the right to police what people do in their own homes? That's what they always do. Jan 2 at 12:15
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    Why is dancing specifically banned?
    – Vikki
    Jan 2 at 23:24
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    @Vikki: If I had to guess, probably because some forms get you breathing more heavily, and often right next to other people. (Or moving into space that they were just breathing in, giving aerosol particles an easier path onto your mask / eyes / hands.) Dosage matters for infections; breathing a lot of virus is worse than breathing only a little. Jan 3 at 0:21
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    A minor point: the restrictions dated 28 December are a continuation of existing rules that were brought in before Christmas. We won’t know until 4 Jan whether they’re extended again. Jan 3 at 3:42
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It appears that dancing is indeed banned in that area but it is a general ban instead of something targeted at New Years events.

https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus/covid-19-coronavirus-what-you-can-and-cant-do

Certain high-risk music events are not permitted as dancing is banned and seated food and beverage consumption requirements are in place as part of public health and social measures.

Any gathering of more than 500 patrons (whether in public of private) that involves the playing of recorded music or live performances involving singing or dancing for the purposes of entertainment is not permitted. In addition, certain specific music events are not permitted.

Carols by candlelight events are permitted.

Nightclubs will also be closed.

Dancing is not permitted except at weddings.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/ted-cruz-covid-australia-washington-b1984395.html

Dancing is banned (except for weddings), nightclubs are due to remain closed, and Australians are asked to remain outdoors when it is not possible to keep a physical distance. Private parties are however permitted, albeit without dancing.

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    I was really hoping it was a Footloose joke :(
    – fredsbend
    Dec 31 '21 at 22:29
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    "but it is a general ban instead of something targeted at New Years events." Well, sort of. It's a general ban, but it only applies to a few days on either side of New Year's Day, so it's not unreasonable to call it a ban on dancing at New Year's parties, as the timing of the ban seems to be pretty clearly directed at exactly that.
    – reirab
    Jan 1 at 9:23
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    @reirab Do you have any evidence to support the claim that the dancing ban just applies around the new years holiday and isn't longer term? Everything I have seen shows no indication of that.
    – Joe W
    Jan 1 at 14:53
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    @JoeW See the answer by Rebecca, it quotes the press release that says the current prohibitions last until Jan 4.
    – Barmar
    Jan 1 at 17:31
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    @JoeW Yes. See the other answer which quotes the relevant statute. It's temporary just for a few days on either side of New Year's.
    – reirab
    Jan 1 at 19:52
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Rebecca J. Stones’ answer has the facts and the sources. As someone in Western Australia, I think I can add the context.

Western Australia has been highly successful at keeping out COVID-19. The state has had 1 168 cases (9 deaths) total since the pandemic began, out of 430 523 cases (2 253 deaths) nationally.[1] That’s just 44 cases per 100 000, against a national rate of 1 672 per 100 000.[2]

The state government has used strong measures over the course of the pandemic, including limits on gatherings such as number of visitors, mask requirements, and yes, permitted activities like dancing.[3] The state’s success in keeping out the pandemic has been credited in large part to these measures,[4] which have also been highly popular with the public (the current government was re-elected in March 2021 in a landslide[5]). Restrictions have been short-term, and overall residents have been under far fewer limits than those in the rest of the country.[6]

On 19 December, an interstate traveller attended parties and nightclubs while infectious, beginning a new outbreak.[7] As a result, 30 new cases have emerged in three weeks, the biggest spike in months.[1] Restrictions were reintroduced on 23 December, and extended on 28 December.[8] The current end date is 4 January, although they may be extended again.

So much for the fully cited facts. Anecdotally, I can tell you that yes, the current restrictions are a bit weird and something of a joke… because they’re so selective. Why are they not requiring masks, or just banning gatherings full-stop? I can but speculate that it’s actually because of the holiday period: banning parties would be highly unpopular, so they tried to put in whatever measures they thought they could get people to accept, and ended up with this weird hodgepodge.

In that sense, yes, the measures could be said to be targeting Christmas/New Year’s gatherings, but in a “this is a period with a lot of social contact” way, not a “let’s ruin everyone’s fun like that town in Footloose” way.


Notes

1: Department of Health (WA), as at 3 Jan 2022.

2: Based on state and national populations from Australian Bureau of Statistics, as at 30 Jun 2021. Quick back-of-the-envelope calculations tell me that attempting to adjust to up-to-date figures would only make a difference in the last digit, at worst.

3: Wikipedia, COVID-19 pandemic in Western Australia. Yeah, I’m citing Wikipedia; I haven’t found a better timeline of what restrictions have been put in place and when—short of trawling back through the government’s announcements. But here’s an example of restrictions from Feb 2021.

4: e.g. WAtoday (27 Aug 2020).

5: ABC News coverage.

6: From the last restrictions lifting in July up until the current ones in December, there were essentially no limits on most activities, gatherings, or in-state travel. (“Most”: some large public events were starting to have proof-of-vaccination requirements, and some remote communities considered vulnerable can’t be visited.)

7: ABC News (23 Dec 2021)

8: Restrictions from 23 Dec, and again from 28 Dec.

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  • Is the dancing ban based on any kind of study, or is it just throwing stuff at the wall until something sticks? Jan 3 at 8:04
  • @RuslanOblov No idea. Though I must say, when I think about what it actually means for “music events”, I figure it applies more to mosh pits than to waltzes, and then it makes sense… Don’t know that I can say the same for private gatherings though. Jan 3 at 11:58
  • This has quite a bit of color commentary. I'm not sure where to start, except that we're explicitly not very tolerant of that in our answers here.
    – fredsbend
    Jan 4 at 0:08
  • @fredsbend I figured I was taking a chance, adding the anecdotal observations. I tried to limit all opinion to those last paragraphs, though, so that they could be severed if necessary. But “quite a bit”: that sounds like you think there’s more mixed in besides those? Where have I erred? Jan 4 at 0:46

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