By ALLISON HORE
A string of venues across Sydney’s CBD and Eastern suburbs have been slapped with $5000 fines for failing to comply with COVID-19 public health orders
Unity Hall in Balmain, the Darlo Village Hotel in Darlinghurst, the Eastern Hotel in Bondi Junction, and the Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel were all found to be in breach of social distancing requirements in the past week.
Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors visited the Unity Hall last Wednesday and found a number of breaches including tables being too close together for social distancing to be maintained, an out-of-date safety plan and details of patrons being recorded improperly.
Similarly, while everything initially looked to be in order at the Darlo Village Hotel, when inspectors went upstairs patrons were found seated almost back-to-back in breach of the 1.5 meter regulation.
The Eastern Hotel received a fine for allowing patrons using the pokie machines in the venue’s VIP room to sit side-by-side. The breach occurred only days after a previous inspection where venue staff and owners were briefed on social distancing procedures in the gaming room.
“The manager told the inspectors that the venue had proper procedures in place to ensure gaming machine players are kept 1.5 metres apart,” Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said.
“The licensee has since advised us that he will turn off every second machine to ensure compliance with the public health order.”
At the Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel on Friday night undercover inspectors from Liquor and Gaming NSW found a number of groups of patrons standing while drinking alcohol and separate groups seated with 1.5 of each other. The hotel had also failed to turn off every second pokie machine in line with their own COVID-19 safety plan.
Mr. Argeres said with these latest breaches bring the total number of fines issued across the state for COVID-19 public health order breaches to 18.
“The time for warnings is now long gone. Venues caught doing the wrong thing can expect to be fined for the first breach and shut down for second and subsequent breaches,” he said.
According to the latest NSW Health data, released on 8pm Sunday night, the number of locally acquired COVID-19 cases is down. There were 69 confirmed cases across the state this week compared to 90 last week. However the number of cases with an unknown source is slightly up from last week, with 8 cases compared to 3.
COVID safety breaches can be reported to NSW Police. Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork and Fair Trading conduct uniformed and undercover inspections of licensed venues and can issue on the spot fines and even have the power to temporarily close venues if necessary.