A Balmain pub has become the first NSW venue to be formally closed for a week for COVID breaches.
The Unity Hall Hotel was found to be hosting two birthday parties and not following COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements just a day after receiving a penalty notice for other COVID breaches.
The venue will be closed for seven days from 5am today (Wednesday) in addition to having been fined a total of $10,000 by Liquor & Gaming and NSW Police.
Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said under the Public Health Orders, inspectors can temporarily close venues for second and third offences.
“The venue was fined $5000 after our inspection on 5 August, where inspectors identified an out of date COVID-19 Safety Plan, inadequate sign in processes relating to not recording times of entry and digitising records, and a lack of physical distancing between chairs and tables.”
A penalty notice was issued for those offences on August 7. Police attended the pub the next day, on August 8, in response to a complaint from a member of the public.
When they arrived, Police observed what appeared to be one private function of 32 guests who were dancing, standing and mingling while consuming alcohol.
Police fined the Balmain pub $5000 and then referred the matter to Liquor & Gaming to consider further action.
Liquor & Gaming reviewed the CCTV which corroborated breaches of physical distancing; 10-person limits on bookings; dancing; and staying seated while consuming alcohol.
“This is the risk posed by not following the Public Health Orders and not adequately implementing COVID-safe practices. 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.
“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.
“To repeatedly not comply with the Public Health Orders poses a clear and significant risk to public health.”
Unity Hall issues apology
The Balmain pub apologised “unreservedly” in a post on Facebook last night and promised new procedures were in place.
“We acknowledge that we did not fully understand every aspect of the changing regulations and we should have,” it said.
“The standards required of the hotel by the health authorities are very high, but we recognise that the consequences of this virus are severe and are not to be taken lightly.”
13 more fines since August 13
Inspectors from Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading have issued a total of 108 fines to NSW hospitality businesses, amounting to $480,000.
Thirteen new fines were handed out between August 13 and September 7:
· Acacia Modern Japanese Restaurant – Gordon
· Bare Witness – Rhodes
· Caffe Jam – East Gosford
· Chambers Fine Coffee – Rhodes
· Bondi Bowling Club
· Juan Bowl & Tea – Redfern
· La Grillade – Redfern
· Ningaloo Café Bar – Redfern
· Nguyen Brothers – Alexandria
· Rhodes Phoenix Chinese Restaurant
· The Cockatoo Bar & Restaurant – Gordon
· The Coffee Club – Rhodes Waterside
· Went to see the Gypsy – Alexandria
Unity Hall will be closed from Wednesday, September 9 to 5am on Wednesday, September 16.