Sydney pub investigated after hundreds ignore social-distancing in huge queue outside

| 09.07,20. 07:54 PM |

Sydney pub investigated after hundreds ignore social-distancing in huge queue outside

A large crowd of people formed a queue outside the Golden Sheaf on Wednesday night.(Reddit)

The NSW liquor and gaming regulator is investigating after hundreds of revellers defied public health advice by forming a tightly-packed queue outside a Sydney pub.

A photograph posted online shows people shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Golden Sheaf in Double Bay last night.

Liquor and Gaming NSW said it was investigating claims up to 250 people breached social distancing rules.

The regulator's acting Director of Compliance Operations Dimitri Argeres said inspectors had contacted the venue's management seeking an explanation.

"We are treating this matter extremely seriously," Mr Argeres said.

"Venues should be aware that Liquor and Gaming NSW conducts both overt and covert inspections to check for compliance with COVID restrictions."

Mr Argeres said all businesses in NSW needed to be "constantly vigilant" in checking patrons followed the rules.

NSW Police confirmed officers were called to the venue about 9:00pm.

"Police liaised with the manager before assisting security with restricting the number of people in the line to comply with social distancing guidelines," NSW Police said in a statement.

"The remainder were moved on from the area."

Nobody was fined as a result.

After a walk-through of the premises, police deemed the Golden Sheaf was complying with COVID-19 restrictions inside.

Federal MP for Wentworth Dave Sharma reposted an image of the queue online and said the incident was "not OK" because the spike in cases in Victoria had shown COVID-19 could easily resurge.

The chief executive officer of the Golden Sheaf's operator, Solotel Group, insisted the venue practised "strict social distancing and COVID hygiene and safety procedures".

"We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously," Justine Baker 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."

She said it was "the collective responsibility" of all staff, guests, operators and authorities to ensure each other's safety.

Under current COVID-19 restrictions in NSW, the capacity of a venue must not exceed one customer per four square metres.

They are also required to keep names and contact details for staff, customers and contractors for at least 28 days to enable contact tracing in the event of any confirmed case.

Ms Baker denied reports the venue had been offering discount drink promotions on Wednesday nights and said this had ceased since the pandemic began.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW said it was the responsibility of all hotels to manage inside and outside their premises to ensure social-distancing.

"This is serious lesson for all NSW pubs," said John Green, the peak body's Director of Liquor and Policing.

"We need to do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and social-distancing requirements must be complied with."

Mr Argeres warned hotels must have a COVID-safe plan under current health orders and non-compliance could result in "significant penalties".

Individuals can face fines of up to $11,000 for flouting public health orders, while businesses face up to $55,000 and a further $27,500 for each day the offence continues.


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