South Australia joins WA with 2sqm rule

25 June, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

South Australia has become the second state to implement the one-person-per-2sqm rule, relieving financial pressure on the state’s pub operators.

From Monday 29 June, South Australia will move to a 2sqm rule with no other capacity limits for on-premise trading. It will also once more allow pubs to operate their gaming offerings. This relaxation of rules is part of Step 3 in South Australia’s recovery strategy.

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It’s a big move for the state, making it on par with Western Australia as the most operator-friendly trading conditions in the country (Western Australia will move to no cap other than the 2sqm rule on Saturday 27 June, as reported by Bars&Clubs). The biggest news for the state’s publicans is the resumption of gaming, which will facilitate turnover.

“South Australia continues to have an excellent record,” said Premier Steven Marshall.

“We have not had a case in South Australia for an extended period of time and that only happens if everybody stays vigilant.”

Publicans across the state have welcomed the relaxing of news, with Julie Peter, owner and operator of the award-winning Crafers Hotel putting it simply.

“This is great news for us. The more the merrier!”

Almost back to normal

At the large-format Marion Hotel, in suburban Adelaide, manager Anna Hurley said that the venue’s trade is already close to pre-COVID trading, and that the Step 3 relaxation will help boost trade even further.

“The increase from 80 people to 300 which happened last week was massive for our venue. The Marion Hotel is huge. The 80-person cap was incredibly prohibitive and very difficult to manage with such a big venue with so many different entry and exit points, and a lot of demand from people wanting to go out,” explained Hurley.

“Going up to 300 already gave us a huge boost in trade, to the extent that this past weekend we almost returned to regular trading levels on Friday and Saturday nights.”

The only things missing from regular trade at the Marion Hotel – part of the Hurley Hotels Group – were functions and gaming. The move to the 2sqm rule will make both of those profitable revenue streams operational again.

“Going up to the 2sqm rule allows us to have functions, and we will book out our function room almost to the end of the year in the next couple of weeks, which is fantastic. Being able to have functions back in our venues is going to be a massive boost to our trade.

Hurley also suggested that resuming gaming will nudge the venue back to profitability.

“Having gaming open on Monday is really key in underlying the profit of the business, which is very important as well.

“Monday is going to be a massive day.”

In another positive implication of the easing restrictions, Marion Hotel will begin to hire more staff to service the increased trade.

“In the last two weeks as the restrictions have been released, we’ve gone from a team of under 50 to about 80, and I’ll be hiring at least 10 new people this week. It’s so exciting.”