COVID-19 restrictions have eased further in New South Wales today, with hospitality venues across the state now allowed to let punters drink while standing.
Despite concerns around a returned traveller testing positive on the same floor as a security guard who also has the virus, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the easing of standing rules would go ahead.
Last month the Premier said the NSW Government would ease the standing restriction as long as there were no further clusters or outbreaks in the state and confirmed: “At this stage there’s no cause for us to change of the restrictions easing.”
AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, welcomed the move saying: “Everyone loves having a drink with mates at the bar – for many hoteliers and patrons today’s announcement will be the most significant relaxation since the pandemic began.
“Standing with a drink in hand is the Aussie way – and it has been missed.
“We need to remember, however, pubs are still doing it tough with JobKeeper about to end and venues still at 50 per cent capacity.”
Concerns over the viability of venues to operate with JobKeeper and with restricted capacity were echoed by Laundy Hotels executive Craig Laundy.
Speaking on 2GB this morning, the former Liberal MP said: “The drama we’ve had as operators, given it’s a fundamental part of Australian culture is, we been turned in an arc, because there’s a $10,000 fine if the police walk in and find someone standing up. So we’re forever walking around, and saying to people ‘I’m really sorry you’ve got to sit down’ and it will be nice for that not to be the case.
“It’s nice to have this, however there are still restrictions; we’re restricted on numbers, we’ve got JobKeeper finishing at the end of March and it’s pretty important that we back Gladys and the team to further reduce restrictions so that we can keep our staff on.”
He added: “It’s important, we’ve kept our staff on. The Federal Government and State Government have done a great job, they’ve got the contact tracing teams, the QR codes and it’s important they back that and their system and let us ease [capacity restrictions] further before JobKeeper ends.
“Quite simply if we can only have 50 per cent of the bums on seats on 1 April … without JobKeeper we’d only need 50 per cent of the staff. And this is not just me, this is every operator in the industry, especially accommodation hotels.”