Here we go again: Attendance at pubs, clubs to be restricted


Tighter restrictions for pub-goers will be announced as soon as Tuesday as the industry tries to arrest a hotel-linked spread of the virus.

Under the plan - which was proposed in part by the Australian Hotels Association - group bookings would be wound back to 10 from 20, every guest would be required to sign in instead of just one per group and pub guests could be capped at 300 people no matter the size of the venue.

Even the figure of 300 will be closely eyed by government officials and could be further reduced if the outbreak worsens.

Pubs with larger gatherings of more than 250 people could also be required to have a designated "COVID-safe" officer, under the plan.

The Golden Sheaf Hotel caused outrage after a picture of large crowding in the line went viral.
The new government rules come after incidents at places like the Golden Sheaf Hotel, which caused outrage after a picture of large crowding in the line went viral.

One government source said the industry was trying to move "on the front foot" amid public concern over the Crossroads Hotel cluster.

The proposal was not raised at NSW cabinet on Monday, but it was discussed at a senior leadership meeting after cabinet which Premier Gladys Berejiklian had with her leading COVID ministers.

It is understood an announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday.

The move came after NSW Police warned venues and patrons that a harsh crackdown on "disturbing behaviour" at pubs and clubs was coming as punters flouted social distancing rules.

Police Minister David Elliott issued the warning yesterday, saying a tightening of restrictions was on the cards if the hospitality industry continues to allow large crowds and if further outbreaks are identified.

The new rules have been put in place after a cluster broke out at a hotel in Casula. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images
The new rules have been put in place after a cluster broke out at a hotel in Casula. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images

"Make no mistake, the NSW Government is very concerned about the outbreaks that we've seen ... I've spoken to the Australian Hotels Association and Clubs NSW and made it very clear that we cannot afford to have these sort of slips when it comes to the restrictions in place in allowing our hospitality industry to begin the road to recovery," Mr Elliott said.

"We may have to look about what restrictions may need to be reintroduced, which would be devastating for the hospitality industry," he said.

"We don't want to see the hospitality industry close down again, go into go into lockdown again because it may not survive.

"Some areas of regional NSW may see the permanent closure of these venues if they can't continue to operate."

The Star is the second venue to be fined by Liquor & Gaming under the COVID laws. Picture: Supplied
Police Minister David Elliott says he wants to see the hospitality industry thrive. Picture: Supplied

Mr Elliott said he was expecting the industry to put in place safer practices so further outbreaks don't occur.

Businesses that fail to comply with the public health order can be slapped with fines up to $55,000 and a six month jail term.

Most businesses that are busted breaking the rules will be issued on the spot fines of $5,000.

Police are investigating several venues for breaches, including the Golden Sheaf in Double Bay and the Lake Jindabyne Hotel and Motel.

The Crossroads Hotel is also under investigation to determine if the venue followed the COVID safe plan.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Tony Cooke said the time for warnings is over, and that individuals need to take responsibility for their own actions.

"The moronic behaviour of people at dance parties needs to stop, and we will continue to seek these people out and where appropriate take action," Assistant Commissioner Cooke said.

"Complacency is the ally of the virus, we need to take this seriously," he said.

Mr Elliott said he was "flabbergasted" by the actions of some pub goers, and said punters shouldn't need to be told not to crowd venues.