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Sunday, July 25, 2021

NSW tightens restrictions on pubs; ACT unchanged

NSW is introducing tighter patron restrictions at pubs as the number of COVID-19 cases linked with the Crossroads Hotel at Casula in Sydney’s South-West rose to 28 today.

Venues will see their patronage capped at 300 regardless of size, while group booking numbers will be reduced from 20 to 10.

Larger pubs will also require fulltime marshal on duty to ensure a COVID-safe plan is being implemented, while smaller venues will only require a marshal during peak times.

Patrons will also once again have to be seated to consume food and beverages, while collecting contact details of patrons will be mandatory.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the announcement comes on the back of direct consultation with the AHA NSW branch.

“Unfortunately, what they’ve told us is when you have more than 10 in a group booking in a pub or hotel setting, people are mingling and they shouldn’t be mingling,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We know from the health advice we’ve received from the beginning of the pandemic, that indoor activity, where people aren’t seated is a huge health risk. It increases the chance of transmission.”

The reimposition of these measures has been welcomed by publicans, who hope the restrictions can prevent the state re-entering another lockdown like Victoria has.

“There are so many of us that are on the brink of decimation I suppose,” Camden pub owner Steve Wisbey told ABC Radio National’s AM.

“Closing and going into lockdown as per Melbourne would really see the end of a lot of us,” he said.

“This lowering is still something that will allow us to turn a dollar, and to keep staff on and to keep going.”

Only NSW pubs will be affected by the new restrictions, with clubs, casinos and restaurants all off the hook.

“I personally think it should be done for everybody if it’s going to be done. This is where there have been issues in the past with not quite understanding government guidelines,” Mr Wisbey said. “It needs to be one rule for all.”

Owner of Royal Hotel Queanbeyan, Anthony McDonald, told ABC Radio Canberra’s Breakfast he’s supportive of the measures given public health and safety is “paramount”.

“Publicans are generally following the public health regulations … it’s trial and error through this challenging period so I think we’ve just got to adapt as things evolve.”

Mr McDonald said the patron cap won’t affect his business given the Royal Hotel has a 250-patron capacity under the one person per four square metre rule.

“I’d suspect that will only affect the larger hotels in the big metropolitan areas, in Sydney particularly,” he said.

However, the 10-patron booking limit will force The Royal to reschedule or cancel a number of reservations.

“There was a major influx once we went from 10 to 20 (patrons per booking), the phone was ringing quite constantly.

“We’ll be having conversations with our punters today looking to push back or cancel a number of other functions,” he said.

Since 19 June, ACT pubs have been restricted to 100 patrons per indoor or outdoor area, so long as the one person per four square metre rule is adhered to.

Group bookings in the ACT have been capped at 20 people, and patrons can order at the bar but must be seated to consume their drinks or meals.

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