NSW venues reminded to stay COVID-vigilant

Bartender in a mask

The need for venues to maintain high standards of COVID-safety has been re-enforced by Liquor & Gaming NSW, who will be re-visiting venues across the state after initial inspections in June.

The move comes after the Phoenix Hotel in Woollahra became the latest venue to cop a double fine for COVID safety and physical distancing breaches.

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.”

Despite the picture being painted by mainstream media that pubs and bars are NSW hotspots, the majority of fines issued in have gone to licensed cafes and restaurants.

Inspectors from Liquor & Gaming, Safework NSW and NSW Fair Trading have so far handed out 90 fines to hospitality businesses, totalling $361,000. Of those over 60 per cent have gone to licensed cafes and restaurants, while fewer than 25 per cent have gone to pubs, hotels and small bars.

The main areas of compliance failures related to to inadequate sign in procedures and record keeping, out of date COVID-19 Safety Plans, and issues with hygiene and physical distancing.

Argeres said: “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.

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

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

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.

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