The Canberra Liberals today called on the ACT Government to introduce a flexible, “practical” approach toward reopening hospitality venues across the Territory.
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that Canberra cafes, restaurants and other hospitality venues will be allowed to seat up to 10 patrons at a time as restrictions are lifted slightly from 11.59pm this Friday 15 May.
“The ACT Government’s announcement that all venues can have just 10 people, whilst it’s a good first step, isn’t particularly reasonable,” Canberra Liberals Leader Alistair Coe said.
The Opposition Leader argued that many large hospitality venues in the ACT can “easily and safely accommodate” many more than 10 patrons.
“I don’t think the one size fits all approach of 10 persons per venue, regardless of the size, really is particularly fair.”
Mr Coe called for, as a “matter of urgency”, an approach offering different patronage limits based on the size of the venue.
“It could also be based on the licensed number of people allowed to be at the property, or it could be based on the gross floor area in addition to basic social distancing rules.
“We don’t need to be rash here, we don’t need to open the floodgates, we can do things in a very measured way that takes into account the individual circumstances of venues.”
In Outback Queensland, 20 patrons will be allowed at hospitality venues from 11.59pm on 15 May, with a 10-person limit remaining in metropolitan Queensland. Those restrictions will remain in place for four weeks.
From Monday 18 May, hospitality venues with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino in Western Australia will be allowed to seat up to 20 patrons.
Earlier this week, Mr Barr indicated that the ACT Government won’t be rushing to boost hospitality venue capacity.
“The next step in the national strategy is that 10 becomes 20, and in four weeks’ time we could well be in that position if things go well over the next three weeks.”
“We have a delicate balancing act here between the pace at which we change things, the level of information that the community and businesses are being asked to absorb, and giving sufficient notice of change.
“The worst thing that could happen is that we unlock too fast and we have to go back into a lockdown. That would be devastating for business,” said Mr Barr.
The Chief Minister said the impact of changes to restrictions will continue to be monitored daily.
“We want to see more jobs returning to our economy … in a way that ensures not only can we get more economic activity, back but can do so in a way that doesn’t see our COVID caseload increase.”
The Hellenic Club today sent an email to members advising that the 10-person limit applies to the entire venue, not each restaurant within the venue.
“Our three family-owned and operated businesses have all agreed that they are going to ride this out together and reopen when we can bring you the entire Hellenic Club experience and offerings,” they wrote. The club’s drive-through service will remain open.