New South Wales is fast-tracking its reopening roadmap with pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants allowed to host up 50 patrons from 1 June.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the move at a press conference this afternoon, but stressed there would be strict rules and guidelines around the process.
“What the [NSW] taskforce has determined through consulting with the industry is how determined everybody is to ramp up their activity and provide good customer service in a COVID-safe environment.
“So today I am pleased to announce on behalf of the NSW Government that NSW will be taking an important, critical and big step from 1 June, where pubs, cafes, restaurants and the like will be able to have up to 50 patrons.
“However, this will be with very strict guidelines in place, it has to be in adherence to the four square metre rules, so some venues are small in space, they will only be able to have as many customers as is allowed in that space according to the four square metre rule.”
The Premier added: “Nobody will be able to take bookings of more than 10 people, a maximum booking of 10 people and also nobody will be able to be standing up in these venues. You have to be seated at a table, even if it’s a pub, you have to be seated at the table; you have to be served at the table; there is no mingling, no standing around.
“There are strict guidelines in place which will ensure that we can do this safely. The taskforce reported to me that through consultation with the industry there was too much confusion with having a further step in the approach many venues differ across the state and even venues in regional areas would have been hampered if we took that extra step.
“What we are doing between now and 1 June is to make sure that the rules, regulations and guidelines are in place so that everybody adheres to them very strictly.”
The Premier said that the NSW Government taskforce has been focused on making sure the roadmap to recovery is one with safety at its forefront, but also acknowledged that many businesses and operators will not survive the shutdown.
“We already know that for many of these businesses they won’t be coming back at all, but for those who are viable, for those who have managed to hang on, we are ensuring we are working together to provide that safe environment.
“Things will be very different, imagine even something as simple as having joint cutlery on a table won’t exist anymore, a simple buffet won’t exist anymore, a communal food bowl won’t exist anymore. There will be very strict guidelines because the last thing we want to do is to have to shut businesses down because they haven’t complied and the last thing we want to do is go backwards.”
She added: “We know this is a big step, but the regulations and the rules we’ll be putting in place will be very strict to make sure safety is paramount. But it is a significant time in the history of our state and we have a no regrets policy in keeping the community safe, making sure everything we do is to protect lives, but also making sure people aren’t long-term unemployed and we can bounce back from the devastating economic shock.”
The move has been welcomed by the Australian Hotels Association, with AHA NSW CEO John Whelan describing it as an “important and positive step forward” for NSW pubs.
“The entire hospitality sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis with hotels shut down across NSW and 94 per cent of our workforce of 75,000 stood down or terminated,” Whelan said.
“From June 1 we can start re-employing our staff and open up our hotels once again as a great place for our communities to meet, relax and socialise.
“Today’s announcement is a common sense move – it will be particularly welcomed by our NSW country hoteliers as regional NSW opens again for travellers.
“Hoteliers have rightly put the health and safety of staff, patrons and the community first as we battle together to contain the spread of COVID-19, but the virus has devastated hotels and our workforce.
“Today is a significant step forward on the road to recovery for our industry and a welcome kick-start to the NSW economy.
“I would particularly like to thank the Premier, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello.
“We look forward to the day when we can safely fully re-open, re-employ our staff and pour a cold draught beer for our loyal patrons.”