Liquor & Gaming NSW has launched an investigation into claims that up to 250 people breached social distancing rules in a queue outside the Golden Sheaf Hotel on Wednesday night.
The Golden Sheaf is part of the Solotel group and is located in Double Bay, Sydney.
NSW Police have confirmed officers were called to disperse a large crowd of people waiting to gain entry to the venue after receiving multiple reports from the public.
Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance Operations, Dimitri Argeres, said inspectors have today contacted the hotel’s management to seek an explanation for the apparent breach of social distancing requirements.
“We are treating this matter extremely seriously,” he said. “Venues should be aware that Liquor & Gaming NSW conducts both overt and covert inspections to check for compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
“With the potential for new cases of COVID-19 to emerge in NSW, we need all businesses including hotels and clubs to be constantly vigilant in checking that patrons are observing the rules.
“Under the NSW public health orders, hotels must have a COVID safe plan which must be enforced at each premises and include measures to manage gatherings that may occur outside the venue.
“While our inspections have shown that the vast majority of venues are complying, those caught doing the wrong thing face significant penalties.”
Refusing or failing to comply with the public health orders without a reasonable excuse is an offence and could result in a fine of up to $11,000 for individuals, six months’ imprisonment, or both. Further fines of $5,500 apply for each day the offence continues.
Businesses face fines of up to $55,000 and up to a further $27,500 for each day the offence continues.
Solotel promises additional safety measures
In a statement to news.com.au, chief executive officer of Solotel pubs group Justine Baker said the firm was practising “strict social distancing and COVID hygiene and safety procedures” and adhered to NSW Health guidelines.
“We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously, which is why we will now be taking bookings only on Wednesday nights from 8pm and we will be employing extra staff and security to ensure social distancing is adhered to and we have a maximum of 20 people in our queues at any one time,” she said.
“We employ management and security staff to monitor queues constantly – at the Golden Sheaf last night we worked immediately with police to disperse the crowd and ensure social distancing measures were established.
“It is the collective responsibility of all staff, guests, operators and authorities to ensure the safety of each other.”
UPDATE: The NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming has imposed a $5500 fine on the Golden Sheaf Hotel.