Club Punchbowl

Double COVID fine for function failure

September 14, 2020
By Alana House

The Croatian Club in Punchbowl has been handed a double fine totalling $10,000 for hosting two 75-person events in breach of COVID-19 function restrictions.

When Liquor & Gaming NSW inspectors visited the club on September 5, they observed around 50 guests at an 18th birthday party, some of whom were mingling and drinking while standing.

Records showed the party was booked for 75 guests, and when inspectors revisited the venue on 8 September, they discovered that the day after the birthday party, the club hosted a 75-person christening.

The duty manager said it was too hard to cancel on the christening’s guests so close to the event despite being told the day prior that a booking of this size was not allowed.

The club hosted two 75-person events in breach of restrictions

Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said the club now risks closure if further breaches are detected, and all hospitality venues should not be taking bookings above 10 patrons unless the event is a wedding reception, funeral, wake, memorial service, or corporate function.

“Only these events are exempted from the 10-person limit,” Argeres said.

“Big functions and large group bookings put people in the sort of close proximity that contributes to virus transmission, and a happy occasion can easily turn into a tragedy that directly impacts your nearest and dearest.

“Function centres and other hospitality venues must enforce the specific health orders around group bookings. They risk significant penalties, and closure if found breaching the Public Health Orders.”

Inspectors from Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading have now handed out 122 fines to hospitality businesses, worth $552,000, including another double, $10,000 fine this week to the Whiskey Tango bar at Len Waters Estate.

When Liquor & Gaming inspectors visited the Whisky Tango bar on 5 September, they observed a number of serious breaches including:

  • no conditions of entry on display
  • an out of date safety plan
  • patron crowding exceeding one person per four square metres
  • patrons standing and mingling while drinking
  • close queues at the bar
  • groups of patrons seated at chairs and tables too close together.

Argeres said, “All of these issues are a recipe for transmission.”

“The majority of clusters in NSW have derived from hospitality venues because of the ease with which the COVID virus can spread in enclosed indoor areas where people are eating and drinking.

“As we’ve seen it’s really hard to prevent people who know each other from mingling. The rules are there so we can participate safely in important social events like weddings and funerals as well as enjoy smaller get-togethers while reducing the risk of transmission.”

Other fines last week included:

  • Bar Cleveland – Redfern
  • Bella Blue Café – Lindfield
  • Brookvale Chinese Restaurant – Brookvale
  • Castlereagh Club – Sydney
  • Delizie Di Casa – Redfern
  • Ermington Hotel – Ermington
  • Harbour View Hotel – Dawes Point 
  • La Grillade – Redfern 
  • Lavender’s Riverside Cafe – Maitland
  • Lord Wolseley Hotel – Ultimo
  • Mr B’s – Sydney
  • Ningaloo Café Bar – Redfern 
  • Three Williams  – Redfern
  • Timbah – Glebe

Balmain pub shut down for COVID breaches

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