New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has put hospitality businesses on notice, calling out the industry over a lack of compliance with COVID-safe measures.

“I’m concerned with the lack of compliance in some hospitality businesses in particular, cafes and restaurants,” said Berejiklian at a press conference on Wednesday 8 July. “Basic things, like sharing a salt and pepper shaker, for example… are a health risk.”

The premier urged the public not to visit businesses that aren’t complying. “If we see that what we’ve allowed at this point is too much of a health risk, we will need to take further action,” said Berejiklian.

Businesses are on the second line according to NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello. While more than 117,500 COVID safety plans have been downloaded in less than a month, the minister implored business owners to officially register their plans. There are currently 10,500 registered COVID-safe businesses across NSW.

“Customers are encouraged to give feedback to businesses,” said Dominello. “Our focus in June 2020 was on educating industry; while our focus in July 2020 will be on compliance.”

Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010 is a criminal offence, with businesses facing a penalty of up to $55,000. A further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues. On the spot fines of $5000 could also be applied.

During a press conference on Thursday 9 July, the premier added that restrictions would remain the same for now, but that the state is on high alert. Berejiklian reiterated that restrictions could be tightened in the future if there is suggestion of ‘seeding’ in Victorian border communities or throughout NSW.

“I want to stress that what’s occurred in Victoria is a wake-up call for all of us about how contagious the virus is, how it doesn’t take very long for things to escalate quickly and how it doesn’t take very long for that rate of community transmission to increase,” she said.

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