Pubs and clubs in New South Wales have been given the go ahead to reopen from Friday after days of uncertainty.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced the news on Wednesday evening and confirmed strict rules will be in place.
As is the case with restaurants and cafes, diner numbers will be capped to 10 at a time and social distancing must be adhered to.
Alcohol and meals can be served to customers who are seated, but bar and gaming facilities will remain closed.
“This is an important first step, and we want it to be a success, so that as venues transition back from closure they do so safely both for their staff and their customers,” said Perrottet.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian acknowledged the situation wasn’t “viable” for many large venues, but said the state government will continue to meet with industry bodies to discuss further relaxations.
“As time goes on, we’ll continue to work with all industries to see what the advice of health experts is and what the case numbers look like, to see if we can move forward in New South Wales in perhaps a different way that’s being moved forward in other states,” said Ms Berejiklian.
“But we do need to take these smaller steps forward. We can’t just really go any further at this stage because there’s a lot of activity already happening at the moment, and we need to make sure we collect good data on what that extra level of activity means, to make sure that the extra cases, which we will undoubtedly get, are manageable.”
However, it’s likely many pubs and clubs will have to wait until stage three of relaxations, expected to be announced in July, which will allow 100 diners at a time.
AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson said members were blindsided by the restrictions and disappointed they had not been provided with the opportunity to have more diners.
“We are told only 10 people can sit and have a meal in a pub restaurant area even if that area could safely socially distance 50 or 100,” he said last week.
“Why can only 10 people be allowed in a dining area of a huge venue that could safely socially distance 120?”
Pubs have already reopened in South Australia with the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory opening in the coming days.
Thinking of reopening with 10 diners? Consider these tips.