Bondi Bowling Club has copped a double $10,000 fine after Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors visited the venue on 18 August and observed multiple breaches of COVID safety requirements. The breaches have seen the venue labelled ‘the worst venue to date’ by the authority.

Breaches consisted of serious physical distancing and hygiene issues, including multiple group bookings of more than 10 people; patrons mingling and walking around drinking alcohol; a complete lack of social distancing in queues to the bar; dirty cups and plates left on tables; and inadequate sign in processes with staff unable or unwilling to enforce the mandatory COVID safety measures.

“While we came across Bondi Bowling Club’s breaches during a routine visit, we also use information and feedback from the public along with other sources of intelligence to focus our inspections on venues posing a higher risk,” said Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres.

“We are still on a cliff edge, but you wouldn’t know it if you went to Bondi Bowling Club on 29 August. The venue was operating as though the COVID safety measures were optional.

“This presented a pretty grim picture of patrons and staff who are simply ignoring the restrictions everyone else has to live with and putting the entire community at risk.”

Bondi Bowling Club is the fourth venue to be issued a double $10,000 fine for serious breaches. The first, Garry Owen Pub in Sydney’s Rozelle, previously held the title of ‘worst offender’ but subsequent visits from inspectors have found compliance at a satisfactory level.

The double fine was one of 11 new fines issued by Liquor & Gaming, NSW Fair Trading and SafeWork inspectors last week. The Department of Customer Services agencies have issued 105 fines totalling $469,000 in relation to COVID breaches.

According to the Department, most compliance failures have been the result of inadequate sign in procedures and record keeping, out of date COVID-19 Safety Plans, and issues with hygiene and physical distancing.

New COVID safety feedback portal launches

The Department of Customer Services has also launched a new COVID safety feedback portal, which allows the public to report breaches in venues. Mr Argeres said the portal crowdsources feedback and will determine what measures are and aren’t working.

Any member of the public can now submit complaints, compliments and suggestions about any NSW business, whether they are registered as COVID safe or not.

“The public can provide feedback that directly influences business behaviour, so businesses can proactively take steps to improve on shortcomings, but also know what they are doing well,” Mr Argeres said.

The portal can also alert regulators about where compliance action might be required and help agencies such as Liquor & Gaming NSW to pursue serious offenders.

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