The NSW Government backflipped last night and announced clubs and pubs can reopen on Friday for dining.
“Restaurants and cafes in pubs and clubs will be able to open across NSW from Friday so long as they adhere to social distancing requirements and limit customers to 10 patrons per venue at any given time,” a spokesman, said.
“Bars and gaming facilities will remain closed, however table service for alcohol with a meal will be allowed. Takeaway services can continue to operate as at present.”
Earlier in the day, the Premier dismissed calls by NSW pubs to be included in the first stage of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
Gladys Berejiklian told Sunrise: “I appreciate the frustration expressed by the pubs and clubs.
“But can I make something very clear – this was based on health advice that came through the National Cabinet.”
“When our medical experts are asked why restaurants and cafes are open but not pubs, their response was that it’s easy to maintain social distancing in seated situations, whereas in a pub when people are mingling it’s difficult.”
“We can’t push against that health advice, we have to accept the health advice and that’s what we’re doing.”
However, Berejiklian admitted to Sunrise presenter David Koch that the Government was in talks with the industry about allowing seated bistros within NSW pubs to reopen.
NSW Australian Hotels Association said the decision to add pubs and clubs to the list of venues being allowed to reopen was a “win for common sense”.
John Green, director of liquor and policing at the NSW Australian Hotels Association, said: “For our members they were frustrated and they were confused by the decision this week but what’s occurred is they see it as a win for common sense. They see it as an opportunity to open.”
Will pubs reopen?
Green later admitted to Today that reopening to accommodate 10 customers may not be a viable businesses option for many.
“Some venues will have to make a fairly serious business consideration in regard to whether they do open,” he said. “There are a lot of people out of work, there are expenses. For an average pub in NSW, it’s costing them $30,000 to $35,000 to stay closed. There is no such thing as hibernation.
“The longer this goes on there is every chance some will not open their doors again.
“Ten patrons isn’t many but it’s the first step in a long process getting trading back up and running.
“We are thankful the government were able to reconsider based on the information they got from Health we could open from this weekend. We see this as an opportunity, a first step.”
Merivale confirmed it would keep operating on a takeaway-only policy until restrictions were eased further.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: “We realise the smaller venues will be the ones who gain most, but we are working hard to ensure we open in a safe manner and get the economy back up and firing.”
In Victoria, venues will remain restricted to takeaway until next month. This is expected to be the case until at least June.
Premier Daniel Andrews said: “I think the feedback from many, many businesses is that at just 10 patrons, it’s really hard to be viable.
“If we wait these three weeks, when we move to go beyond just takeaway for cafes … we might not have to stick with a number of ten, we might be able to go higher than that.”
Pictured main: The Buena, Mosman