Dominic Perrottet

Push for COVID-19 licensing changes to be permanent

May 12, 2020
By Alana House

Liquor licensing changes introduced during COVID-19 may become permanent in NSW after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has told 9News he’s keen to see takeaway cocktails, wine and beer from licensed venues become an on-going service.

“I think if the world hasn’t ended, and these restrictions as they’ve been lifted haven’t really had a substantial negative effect, then we shouldn’t bring them back,” Perrottet said.

Young Henrys

The Treasurer spoke to Young Henrys co-founder Richard Adamson (pictured main) this week about the battle craft brewers are facing.

“Richard and his team have felt the hit from COVID19, just like many businesses in or linked to the hospitality sector – but they’re hanging in there,” Perrottet said.

“Key to our economic recovery is letting small businesses like Young Henrys get on with the job without unnecessary restrictions.

“As we come out of this pandemic, we’ll be looking for ways to reexamine regulations and unleash the NSW economy. The post-COVID19 world will require fresh approaches.”

Changes to NSW liquor licensing

The NSW government announced liquor licensing changes in March, following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that registered and licensed clubs, licensed premises in hotels and pubs, entertainment venues and cinemas, casinos and nightclubs would shut.

These changes included allowing licensed premises that do not currently have authorisation for the sale of liquor consumed away from the premises to provide take-away or home delivery services.

At the time, NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said: “We’ve got to think of the health of the people, but we’ve also got to think of the health of the economy and we are transitioning to a takeaway and delivery economy as we fight coronavirus.”

Campari PSA

Many venues have pivoted to offer takeaway service following the licensing changes, while suppliers such as Campari Australia have launched initiatives to assist the on-premise.

Campari’s Shaken Not Broken is delivering Negroni and Bourbon cocktail kits to 200 registered venues across Australia, including donated Campari products, bottles, swing tags and coasters.

Monkey Shoulder truck

Meanwhile, Monkey Shoulder is launching a free door-to-door cocktail delivery service in partnership with some of Sydney’s top bars. 

NSW pubs & clubs to switch to demerit points system

The NSW Government is also looking at making further nighttime economy reforms following the repeal of Sydney’s lockout laws, including demerit points for venues that breach liquor laws.

It said the aim is to support nightlife recovery after COVID-19 restrictions are eased, and “create a vibrant and safe 24-hour economy with risk-based liquor laws that support business”.

Dominello said: “We want pubs, bars and hotels to hit the ground running on the other side, but we are mindful of how rules such as social distancing may need to be accommodated.”

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Eased restrictions still a stumbling block for venues

The NSW Government has announced a further easing of restrictions in the state from May 15. While they will allow more businesses to open and more people to stay in work, they are still limiting the ability of licensed venues to operate profitably.

From May 15, the following will be allowed in NSW:

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people
  • cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time
  • up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
  • weddings up to 10 guests
  • indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 30
  • religious gatherings/places of worship up to 10 worshippers
  • use of outdoor equipment with caution
  • outdoor pools open with restrictions.

The NSW Government said it will closely monitor COVID-19 rates, especially community transmissions, and use this to guide the further easing of restrictions.

However, as Bennelong chef Peter Gilmore noted to The Guardian. “Financially, it’s just not worth opening with 10 or 20 people.”

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