There are industry calls to remove alcohol restrictions during COVID-19 that require meals to be served with drinks at licensed premises.
Despite the easing of restrictions around Australia, alcohol is only allowed to be served with a meal in the on premise in most areas.
Australian Hotels Association WA CEO Bradley Woods told 6PR: “There’s no connection between COVID-19 and having a meal with alcohol as some preventative antidote to not getting the virus or spreading the virus.”
He said COVID-19 shouldn’t be used as an excuse to change society’s views on liquor and he is calling for the alcohol restrictions to be scrapped.
“The health zealots that are obsessed about trying to stop people from drinking all of the time, that want WA to be a dry state, that work within the Health Department are running that agenda.
“We’ve got to ensure that doesn’t become the mandate for the future.”
A source from the Health Department said the requirement for food to be served with alcohol was based on risk-management rather than zealotry. People who visit licensed venues for a meal are more likely to know the identity of their dining companions, which assists with contact tracing if required.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he is concerned people – particularly after consuming alcohol – may fail to comply with social distancing guidelines.
“I know Dr Kerry Chant (NSW Chief Medical Officer) is concerned about mingling and exchanging at the bar,” he said.
The AHA WA also wants the limit on patrons lifted to over 100 people as soon as possible to ensure more venues can open and keep workers employed.
“NSW has gone to 50 people per area within the hospitality establishment,” Woods said. “That means in a large pub with up to nine rooms, they can have 450 people. We’re at 20. There’s a big difference between 20 and 450.
SA fast-tracks venues reopening
South Australian pubs, clubs and restaurants will be able to have up to 80 customers at one time from next Monday under new fast-tracked plans revealed today.
The rules set a maximum of 20 patrons per room, so only venues with four separate areas will be allowed the maximum 80 customers, and they will still have to enforce social distancing.
Pubs can serve alcohol without a meal from June, but patrons must be seated, while the number of people allowed at private gatherings will double from 10 to 20.
No new positive coronavirus cases have been recorded in South Australia since May 7, keeping the total at 439.
Premier Steven Marshall said the “great results” had given the Government “confidence to carefully and slowly lift restrictions” and allow for a “massive increase” in the number of patrons allowed in hotels.
Crippling losses in hospitality
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilsmore said: “The loss of jobs and revenue in this sector has been crippling.
“At the peak of isolation measures, 441,400 jobs had been lost in hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, takeaway, coffee shops, accommodation hotels and casinos. This represents a loss of a third of their total workforce.
“The hospitality sector has seen an $8.5billion fall in revenue, which represents 10% of their annual sales.”
Wilsmore is calling on governments to focus on job creation and minimising regulatory and tax burdens.
“This will be vital to our successful revival so that we can continue to provide employment opportunities and future careers for young Australians,” he said.
Pictured main: The Grosvington at Perth’s Grosvenor Hotel – chargrilled steak topped with homemade pate, mushroom duxelle and puff pastry served with rosemary sea-salt potatoes, buttered snowpeas and a red wine jus.