The NSW Government has announced tougher restrictions will be applied to pubs in the state from Friday, after a cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified in Sydney.
As of last night, 30 cases have been traced back to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, with positive cases also found linked to venues including The Star Casino, Picton Hotel, Jindabyne Hotel and most recently the Macarthur Tavern in Campbelltown.
The tightening of restrictions is directly in response to these cases, to avoid a severe spike and return to a tougher lockdown, like what’s being seen in Victoria. The main changes include:
- Group bookings and tables reduced to a maximum of 10 (down from 20)
- Maximum 300 patrons, regardless of venue size and space
- All patron contact details must be taken
- Designated COVIDSafe hygiene marshals inside venues
- Compulsory COVIDSafe registration through ServiceNSW
The above restrictions will apply to pubs and will likely impact larger venues the most. They don’t apply to restaurants, cafes, small bars or the casino.
NSW Premier Gladys Berijiklian said NSW is on ‘high alert’ for potential outbreaks, and that these measures will help mitigate this risk. The Government has developed such measures in consultation with the industry, developing their response with the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and ClubsNSW.
“It’s been apparent to us as it has to the Australian Hotels Association themselves, that we need to take further action to curtail some of that high risk activity. John Whelan is here with us from the AHA and I want to thank him and his organisation for proactively coming forward and working with the government to reduce the risk that comes with people gathering in larger venues in particular,” Premier Berijiklian said in a press conference yesterday.
“We know from the health advice we’ve received from the beginning of the pandemic, that indoor activity where people aren’t seated is a huge health risk because it increases the chance of transmission. And it was actually the AHA’s advice to us that if we reduce bookings from 20 to 10, it reduces the likelihood for people who may mingle. When you have a group of 10, the likelihood that everyone stays seated, and that behaviour will continue, is a safe option.
“Whether we like it or not, life is not normal and will not be normal until we have a vaccine or a cure. Life will not be normal during the pandemic.”
Whelan, the CEO of AHA NSW, said: “We all know how important it is for our venues to stay COVID-Safe – we are in constant contact with our members and will ensure they understand how vital it is they comply with these new measures.”
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said in a statement that these measures will be strictly enforced.
“These new measures strike the right balance in protecting the health and safety of the people of NSW and ensuring venues remain operational. There will be random and inspections and there will be zero tolerance for non- compliance,” Dominello said.
There’s hope that these changes will help the NSW hospitality industry avoid going back into lockdown with Stage Three restrictions, as is the case in Victoria. Premier Berijiklian last night told the ABC that this is something that NSW definitely didn’t want to do unless absolutely necessary.
“Every time we have an outbreak, we can’t afford to lockdown, reopen, lockdown, reopen – that is no way to live and that is no way to instil confidence to businesses to keep employing people,” the Premier said.
When ABC host Michael Rowland asked whether a further lockdown would be considered if the health situation deteriorated further, Berijiklian said: “Well certainly it is an option we don’t want to take in NSW.”