Bondi Bowling Club has been slapped with a double fine totaling $10,000 after Liquor & Gaming NSW called it ‘the worst venue to date’ for COVID breaches.
When inspectors visited the club on August 29, they identified multiple breaches including serious physical distancing and hygiene issues such as:
- multiple group bookings of more than 10 people
- patrons mingling and walking around drinking alcohol
- a complete lack of social distancing in queues to the bar
- dirty cups and plates left on tables
- inadequate sign in processes with staff unable or unwilling to enforce the mandatory COVID safety measures.
This latest penalty comes as the Department of Customer Service launches a new COVID safety feedback portal for the public to help identify and report breaches in venues.
Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said the portal effectively crowd sources feedback, so businesses and the government know what is and isn’t working.
“The public can provide feedback that directly influences business behaviour, so businesses can proactively take steps to improve on shortcomings, but also know what they are doing well,” Argeres said.
Any member of the public can now submit complaints, compliments and suggestions about any NSW business, whether they are registered as COVID safe or not.
The portal can create leads to serious offenders, alerting Liquor & Gaming and other regulators, as to where compliance action might be required.
“While we came across Bondi Bowling Club’s breaches during a routine visit, we also use information and feedback from the public along with other sources of intelligence to focus our inspections on venues posing a higher risk,” Argeres said.
“We are still on a cliff edge, but you wouldn’t know it if you went to Bondi Bowling Club on August 29. The venue was operating as though the COVID safety measures were optional.
“This presented a pretty grim picture of patrons and staff who are simply ignoring the restrictions everyone else has to live with and putting the entire community at risk.”
This week Liquor & Gaming, NSW Fair Trading and SafeWork inspectors issued 11 new fines, bringing the total number to 105 and the total fine amounts to $469,000.
The Garry Owen Hotel in Rozelle was Liquor & Gaming’s previous worst venue for neglecting to implement key COVID safety measures. Subsequent visits have found compliance at a satisfactory level.