An inner-city Sydney pub has become the first NSW venue to be shut down for multiple coronavirus health and safety breaches.
- The pub breached public health orders on consecutive days
- Police found 32 people drinking and dancing at Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain
- Restrictions on hospitality venues include mandatory seating and limits on bookings
The Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain was slugged with a $10,000 fine, and is not permitted to trade for the next seven days, after inspectors from NSW Liquor and Gaming found the hotel hosted two birthday parties in breach of Public Health Orders on Tuesday.
It came just one day after management was fined $5,000 for multiple breaches throughout the venue, including not maintaining digital records and a lack of social distancing.
Managers of the pub in the affluent Sydney suburb apologised to patrons for the oversight, but pointed out regulations were “difficult” to meet.
“The standards required of the hotel by health authorities are very high, but we recognise that the consequences of this virus are severe and not to be taken lightly,” a statement read.
Police were tipped off about the breaches by a member of the public, and found a private function with 32 guests dancing, standing and mingling while drinking.
Under current public health orders in NSW, there is a 10-person limit on bookings in hospitality venues, while dancing and mingling is prohibited.
The hotel was fined $5,000 by police who referred the matter onto Liquor and Gaming.
The regulatory body’s review of CCTV corroborated the breaches identified by police.
Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, warned that under the Public Health Orders, inspectors could temporarily close venues for second and third offences.
“This is the risk posed by not following the Public Health Orders and not adequately implementing COVID-safe practices,” Mr Ageres said.
“People in large groups who are known to each other are far more likely to mingle – including by dancing – and this increases the risk of transmission.”
Mr Argeres said repeated noncompliance with coronavirus protocol posed a “clear and significant risk” to public health.
“Each person brings with them a history of interaction with others in the community which means the more people in a group, the more close contacts they are sharing across that group.”
It’s the latest in a string of fines issued in recent weeks to venues found to be breaching the rules.
Bondi Bowling Club was declared NSW’s worst venue for coronavirus health and safety by the industry regular, knocking a Rozelle hotel from the top spot.
Mr Argeres said the bowls club’s breaches had been discovered during a routine check.
“We are still on a cliff edge, but you wouldn’t know it if you went to Bondi Bowling Club on 29 August,” he said.
“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.”
A total of $480,000 through 108 fines has been collected by Liquor and Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading.
Thirteen new fines were handed out between August 31 and September 7 including Acacia Modern Japanese Restaurant in Gordon, Bare Witness in Rhodes, Caffe Jam in East Gosford, Chambers Fine Coffee in Rhodes, Juan Bowl & Tea in Redfern, La Grillade in Redfern, Ningaloo Café Bar in Redfern, Nguyen Brothers in Alexandria, Rhodes Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, The Cockatoo Bar & Restaurant in Gordon, The Coffee Club at Rhodes Waterside, and Went to See the Gypsy in Alexandria.
Unity Hall will be permitted to reopen from 5:00am on September 16.