The New South Wales government is continuing its blitz of hospitality businesses across the state, with a third venue copping a $10,000 double fine for breaching COVID safety measures.
The Phoenix Hotel in Woollahra was found to have breached physical distancing rules and other COVID safety measures when Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors visited the pub last week. It was the pub’s third compliance check, with inspectors observing COVID safety was still below standard.
Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said repeat visits from inspectors should be expected.
“When we visited venues in June, we provided education and advice,” Mr Argeres said. “Now when we return, we want to see that they’ve turned things around.
“The Phoenix Hotel should have been aware of their sign in obligations and spacing between chairs, tables and patrons.
“If you’ve been visited by us already, you’re not off the hook — we will show up again and we will have higher expectations the next time around.
“The current escalating approach to non-compliance means that repeated issues may result in venue closures.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello warned a crackdown was coming in early July.
“Our focus in June 2020 was on educating industry; while our focus in July 2020 will be on compliance,” Minister Dominello said at the time.
Over the past two weeks alone, Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading have completed 896 inspections and fined 31 hospitality venues. In total, 90 fines worth a $361,000 have been handed out to hospitality businesses across the state.
Licensed cafes and restaurants have copped around 64 per cent of fines and pubs, hotels and small bars around 24 per cent.
Most compliance failures were the result of inadequate sign in procedures and record keeping, out of date COVID-19 Safety Plans, and issues with hygiene and physical distancing. The current restrictions have been in effect since 24 July, with venues required to implement a safety plan and register as COVID safe.
More than 76,000 NSW businesses are now registered as COVID safe — up from 10,500 businesses in July.
“The COVID safe requirements are there for a reason,” Mr Argeres said. “All venues, particularly those we have previously visited, need to make sure they are fully compliant.
“If you’re not meeting COVID safe standards you will be held to account: any member of the public can go onto nsw.gov.au and provide feedback on your business.
“This public feedback can help us identify the risky players and take action where necessary.”