By Triana O'Keefe, editor Australian Hotelier

After a range of "serious breaches" detected at the Sydney venue last week, the Imperial Hotel Erskineville was ordered to close on Friday for 72 hours.

The short term closure order under the Liquor Act follows a targeted operation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) and Police during which bar staff were observed openly consuming illicit drugs while performing their duties, numerous intoxicated and drug-affected patrons were detected and inspectors were offered illicit drugs.

OLGR Director of Compliance and Enforcement Anthony Keon said: "Despite repeated regulatory engagements, the venue has failed to implement appropriate controls to deal with illicit drug use and intoxication at the venue.

"A situation where bar staff and patrons are openly consuming drugs at the venue, and where there have been repeated drug and intoxication issues, is completely unacceptable and shows that the venue has been operating with a complete disregard for its obligations and responsibilities.

"Without significant and material changes to the management and supervision of the venue the likelihood of further illegal activity occurring at the venue is extreme, and the only appropriate action is to close the venue."

Newtown Local Area Police Commander, Superintendent Simon Hardman, said the actions send a clear message to business owners across the area.

"We will actively pursue any venue where illegal activity is thought to be taking place," he said.

AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green commended the action as an appropriately targeted response.

“This is an example of the regulator’s targeting an individual operation that has come under notice rather than imposing a blanket approach, which is to be applauded," he said.

“There are strict controls around the granting of 72 hour closures so there is a need for the operator to have a serious look at their business model and make changes if they want to be part of the community.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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