By ALLISON HORE
The Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay has been issued a $5,500 fine after failing to impose social distancing on patrons queued up outside its doors on Wednesday night.
The hotel was investigated by Liquor & Gaming NSW after a picture emerged on reddit showing up to 250 people packed tightly into the queue. The picture was posted alongside the caption “How many days until Sydney is locked down?”.
Police attended the hotel at about 9:00pm on Wednesday night and liaised with the manager before assisting security staff to restrict the number of people in the queue in line with social distancing guidelines.
Dimitri Argeres, Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance Operations, said that the pub was contacted by inspectors on Thursday to seek an explanation for the apparent disregard for social distancing requirements.
“We are treating this matter extremely seriously. Venues should be aware that Liquor & Gaming NSW conducts both overt and covert inspections to check for compliance with COVID restrictions,” Mr. Argeres said.
“With the potential for new cases of COVID 19 to emerge in NSW, we need all businesses including hotels and clubs to be constantly vigilant in checking that patrons are observing the rules.”
Under the NSW public health orders, pubs and other venues must have a COVID safe plan to ensure social distancing is maintained. This includes measures to manage gatherings that may occur outside the venue also. The state’s COVID-19 measures also require venues to keep a record of names and contact details for staff, patrons and contractors for at least 28 days to allow contact tracing if a case is confirmed.
Businesses face fines of up to $55,000 for failing to comply with these measures and may also be hit with an additional $27,500 for each day the offence continues.
Justine Baker, chief executive officer of Solotel Group which operates the Golden Sheaf Hotel, told the ABC that the hotel is practicing “strict social distancing and COVID hygiene procedures”.
“We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously,” Ms. Baker said.
“We employ management and security staff to monitor queues constantly — at the Golden Sheaf last night we worked immediately with police to disperse the crowd and ensure social distancing measures were established.”
With a large resurgence of COVID-19 in neighbouring Victoria and lockdowns throughout much of Melbourne, the NSW government is on high alert.
In Sydney’s South-West health officials fear a pub-related coronavirus cluster after a 30-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man have both tested positive for the virus. The pair had independently visited the Crossroads Hotel in Casula on Friday the 3rd of July and did not know each other.
“NSW Health has been in contact this afternoon with the management of that particular hotel, the Crossroads at Casula, and has asked them, in fact directed them, to close and provide all necessary details,” NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said in a press conference on Friday.
The Health Department is urging anyone who was at the hotel that night to self-isolate and get tested for the virus if they develop symptoms. A pop-up clinic was opened near the hotel which ran until 9pm on Friday night and will continue to run over the weekend.
Back in the inner-city, local MPs are calling on their constituents to not let their guards down over the weekend.
Jenny Leong, member for Newtown, said in a widely-shared facebook post that now is not the time to “get complacent and ignore restrictions”. She asks people in the inner-west to practice social distancing and good hygiene practices to help stop the community spread of this virus.
“Don’t be like Double Bay this weekend, Newtown,” she said.
“Please be sensible and safe, please take responsibility for yourself and each other.”