Tough new COVID-19 compliance measures for pubs

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced new restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

New rules will be introduced to pubs across NSW that will limit group bookings to a maximum of 10 people and cap the number of customers inside a venue to 300 people following a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases.

Tough new compliance measures will also see dedicated Hygiene Marshalls patrol venues to keep customers safe and ensure the mandatory implementation of a COVID-Safe plan.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new measures, agreed to by the NSW Australian Hotels Association, will come into force at 12:01am Friday, 17 July.

“We are at a crucial stage of the pandemic in NSW – we want venues strictly implementing their COVID-Safe plans and customers abiding by the rules of the venue they are in,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It is critical people remember when they are at a venue they remain seated. This reduces the risk of transmission.”

Under the new measures, pubs across NSW will be required to implement the following:

  • The number of people per booking or table will be reduced from 20 people to 10;
  • A cap of 300 people in a venue at any one time;
  • Compulsory COVID-Safe registration through Service NSW;
  • A dedicated COVID Safe Hygiene Marshall in distinctive clothing must oversee social distancing, cleaning and hygiene at the venue;
    • Large hotels with a capacity of greater than 250 people are to have a COVID Safe Hygiene Marshall on duty whenever the hotel is open.
    • Smaller hotels with a capacity of less than 250 are to have a COVID Safe Hygiene Marshall employed in peak periods (lunch 12pm to 3pm and dinner 5pm to 9pm).
  • Paper sign-in will still be permitted, but hotels must create a digital record of patron names and phone numbers (excel or word) to be submitted within 24 hours;
  • Ensure all patrons provide their name and contact details accurately; and
  • Encouraged to strongly promote QR code sign-in.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said venues enforcing COVID-Safe plans is a crucial element in reducing the chance of an outbreak and keeping the community safe.

“These new measures will reduce the number of people in venues at any one time and ensure customers’ details are recorded accurately so they are immediately available to contact tracers should there be an outbreak at a venue,” Mr Hazzard said.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said these new rules will be enforced with random and covert inspections and that strict penalties will apply to any venues that breach them.

“These new measures strike the right balance in protecting the health and safety of the people of NSW and ensuring venues remain operational,” Mr Dominello said.

“There will be random inspections and there will be zero tolerance for non-compliance.”

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said the NSW Government had worked closely with industry to develop these new requirements which help keep the community safe.

“We all know how important it is for our venues to stay COVID-Safe – we are in constant contact with our members and will ensure they understand how vital it is they comply with these new measures.”

Any business found in breach of the public health orders will be held to account and could face a penalty of up to $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day an offence continues. On the spot fines can also be issued.

Liquor and Gaming NSW also have the power to enforce the following penalties:

  • FIRST OFFENCE: $5,500 fine or relevant penalty for breach of the Public Health Order.
  • SECOND OFFENCE: Business will be closed for one week.
  • THIRD OFFENCE (repeated and willful non-compliance): Shutdown for up to one month.