NSW Government checklist for safe venues welcomed

29 May, 2020 by Andy Young

The NSW Government has circulated a checklist to industry associations which will help venues to develop the COVID-19 safety plan that they will be required to develop as part of reopening.

The checklist sets out the mandatory obligations for venues to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and also includes guidance for businesses with developing a safe environment.

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There is a checklist for NSW pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries, and also a checklist for restaurants and cafes.

The mandatory obligations are:

  • Capacity must not exceed 50 customers or one customer per 4 square metres in an existing seated dining area, whichever is the lesser. Venues, such as clubs and licensed hotels, may have multiple existing seated dining areas.
  • Bookings can only be to a maximum of 10 people.

This means that venues may be able to serve more than 50 people in total, as it is up to 50 people per seated area.

The ABC has reported that ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis has told members this could mean up to 500 people will be able to access one venue at one time, subject to the four square metre rule.

The checklist contains a total of 33 points of guidance for operators, these include:

  • Consider measures to reduce the movement of customers and the number of surfaces touched, for example by using separate doors for entry and exit, separating customer order and collection points, reducing service to table service only, or implementing the use of contactless ordering.
  • Ensure 1.5 metres between active gaming machines. Customers using gaming machines are included in the maximum capacity limit of each seated table service area, and customers from different seated table service areas should not co-mingle.
  • Alcohol can only be consumed by customers whilst seated.
  • Self-serve buffet style food service areas, communal bar snacks, and communal condiments are not permitted.
  • Keep a record of name and a mobile number or email address for all staff, dine-in customers and contractors for a period of at least 28 days. Ensure records are used only for the purposes of tracing COVID-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.

The checklist has been widely welcomed, with AHA NSW CEO John Whelan, saying: “AHA NSW has worked very closely with the NSW and Federal Governments since the shut-down back in March.

“Monday, 1 June marks a very important first step which hotels right across NSW will be taking.

“It’s important for both hoteliers and patrons to recognise social distancing measures will be in place for the forseeable future.

“Patrons will need to be seated when eating and drinking but importantly bar service is permitted – we look forward to welcoming people back to venues.”

Michael Rodrigues, Chair of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), told TheShout: “We welcome the guidelines issued by NSW Health overnight and commend the Government in adopting the principles approach to reopening for which the NTIA and Independent Bars Association have been advocating.

“We look forward to continued dialogue with Government and other industry bodies both locally and internationally, as we all work out how best to do that safely while maximising the opportunity for venues to get their businesses functioning viably again.

“Key to a successful relaunch of our sector is re-establishing consumer confidence in the going out experience. The premium venue segment which we represent understands that. We would encourage all venues across the State to see these requirements as a minimum standard.”

Karl Schlothauer, President of the Independent Bars Association, also welcomed the checklist, telling TheShout: “The IBA congratulates the NSW government for delivering guidelines for hospitality venues to reopen safely.

“We look forward to continuing to work with government through what is a very tricky time for balancing public safety with the long term health and sustainability of our industry. We encourage operators to think long term: we need to keep moving forwards and cannot afford to take a step backward.”

The NSW Government is expected to publish the checklist later today or tomorrow, ahead of venues across the state being allowed up to 50 patrons per dining area on Monday.