While the vast majority of venues and operators in Queensland have been doing the right thing as Stage Three are eased across the state, regulators have issued fines against some rogue operators.
Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) has been monitoring venues to ensure compliance, and said it has been left with no alternative but to take enforcement action against some operators.
“The vast majority of Queensland licensees did a great job abiding by restrictions during the lock-down period and this has helped put us in the strong position we’re in now,” said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath.
“This great work risks being undone by a small minority who have been taking shortcuts and flouting the rules, potentially endangering other people’s health.
“In the past week, OLGR has issued two infringement notices to venues who were operating dancefloors, despite clear advice from authorities that this was not permitted under Stage Three.
“CCTV footage from two nightclubs in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley for the weekend of 3 and 4 July clearly showed patrons dancing on what is normally the venue’s dancefloor.
“Insufficient action was taken by security or venue management to stop it and subsequently both licensees received a $6670 fine.
“Authorities won’t be afraid to keep enforcing these rules, both to protect public health and the thousands of jobs supported by Queensland’s hospitality industry.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Steven Miles said he understood Queenslanders missed their dance floors but it was important to ensure Queenslanders are protected from COVID-19.
“Queensland is in a great position, thanks to the hard work we have put in over the last few months.
“I’m asking all Queenslanders to please keep socially distanced, practice good hand hygiene, and get tested if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms,” Miles said.
“Dancefloors in clubs and pubs might be off limits for now but if we keep up the good work we can return to normal faster.”
The Attorney-General said a Gold Coast bar was also fined $6670 on the same weekend for failing to keep required contact information about patrons for contract tracing purposes, despite receiving multiple warnings.
“The requirement to collect patrons contact details for contact tracing purposes has been in place since stage 1,” she said.
“This is essential for public health units to control the spread of COVID-19 in the community by allowing them to contact patrons who may have been exposed following a confirmed case.
“Our compliance officers are still investigating a number of matters identified in venues over the first weekend of Stage Three, and the weekend just gone. It is possible further infringement notices will be issued this week.
“All licensees should be aware of how to operate under Stage Three and in certain circumstances warnings will no longer be given before an infringement notice. The immediate closure of a venue may also be warranted.”
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the prosecutions highlighted the consequences of failing to heed public health directions.
“The rules are simple – no dancing. It is very clear that dancing is not conducive to social distancing measures and will increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” she said.
“We made it clear when we relaxed restrictions for licensed venues that while we want people to enjoy themselves and celebrate, it is vital they comply with social distancing rules.
“It is also vital that venues are collecting names, phone numbers and email addresses of all customers and employees.
These will be critical in the event we have to carry out contact tracing and may help minimise the spread of the disease.
“Queenslanders have done so well to keep cases to a minimum. Let’s not ruin all that good work now.”