A birthday celebration for the son of pub baron Craig Laundy has resulted in fines totally $10,000 for COVID breaches.
The party for Charlie Laundy, 22, was held at The Red Lion Hotel in Rozelle, owned by Laundy’s sister Danielle Richardson was held on the upstairs balcony on August 2.
Liquor and Gaming NSW issued the pub with two $5000 fines on Friday following an investigation.
Liquor & Gaming inspectors visited the pub on August 15 after receiving a complaint about the birthday lunch, where up to 40 guests booked on the balcony were seen mingling and drinking in breach of the Public Health Orders.
The booking was for four groups of 10 people. CCTV footage showed the guests moving between tables, mingling, standing while drinking and greeting each other warmly with hugs and handshakes.
Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said the venue was skirting the rules by splitting the booking which was clearly for 40 people who knew each other and were not willing to adhere to physical distancing.
“It’s these sorts of social get togethers that can spark a cluster and, when it comes to events like birthday parties and weddings, we’ve seen how quickly people are tempted to forget the rules and throw caution to the wind,” Argeres said.
When inspectors attended on August 15, they found other issues such as an out of date safety plan and inadequately spaced chairs and tables, including patrons on different tables being seated too closely.
Laundy (above) told The Daily Telegraph the fact his son’s lunch triggered a fine showed how difficult it was for publicans to enforce the rules.
“I don’t care what the surname of anyone at any one of my venues is; everyone is treated the same if they break the rules and we get fined as a result,” Laundy said. “We cop it on the chin.
“This demonstrates how hard it is to get people to sit down and stay at their table,” he said.
This is the first time the Red Lion Hotel has been fined.
To date, 68 fines have been issued to NSW hospitality premises, which include bars, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs, totalling $304,000.
The Lewisham Hotel in Lewisham was also fined $5000 last week for breaches that included not having a valid COVID-19 Safety Plan and not spacing gaming machines at least 1.5 metres apart.
“Extra conditions were imposed on hospitality premises because they are higher risk spaces: people consume food and drink there – they stay longer and they touch more surfaces which means there is more opportunity for the virus to spread,” Argeres added.
“Whether we like it or not, the rules are there for a reason. Tighten up your operations and take it seriously.”