Liquor & Gaming NSW has reminded venue operators across the state that they must remain vigilant in maintaining physical distancing rules and other COVID safety measures, especially if inspectors have already found standards not being met.

After the Phoenix Hotel in Woollahra became the latest hospitality venue to receive a double fine, Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said when it comes to poor performance on repeat visits, inspectors have no choice but to double down and ensure the message is understood loud and clear.

“When we visited venues in June, we provided education and advice. Now when we return, we want to see that they’ve turned things around,” Argeres said.

“The Phoenix Hotel should have been aware of their sign in obligations and spacing between chairs, tables and patrons.

“If you’ve been visited by us already, you’re not off the hook – we will show up again and we will have higher expectations the next time around.

“The current escalating approach to non-compliance means that repeated issues may result in venue closures.”

Inspectors from the three agencies have so far handed out 90 fines to hospitality businesses, worth $361,000.

Around 64 per cent of fines have gone to licensed cafes and restaurants and 24 per cent to pubs, hotels and small bars.

“The COVID safe requirements are there for a reason. All venues, particularly those we have previously visited, need to make sure they are fully compliant,” Argeres said.

“If you’re not meeting COVID safe standards you will be held to account: any member of the public can go onto and provide feedback on your business.

“This public feedback can help us identify the risky players and take action where necessary.”

Last week Australian Hotelier confirmed that multiple bookings of tables of 10 is not allowed, this came after one venue was fined following a compliant by a member of the public about mingling between groups of 10 inside the venue.

Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading completed 896 inspections during a blitz over the past two weeks and fined 31 hospitality venues over this period.

Compliance failures were mainly related to inadequate sign in procedures and record keeping, out of date COVID-19 Safety Plans, and issues with hygiene and physical distancing.

More than 76,000 NSW businesses are now registered as COVID safe – it is a mandatory requirement for hospitality venues to have a plan and register it.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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