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9 September 2020

Balmain pub first NSW venue to be shut down for COVID safety breaches

Issued by Liquor & Gaming NSW

The Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain is the first venue in NSW to be formally closed for a week for Public Health Order breaches.

The pub was found to be hosting two birthday parties and not following COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements just a day after receiving a penalty notice for other COVID breaches.

The venue will be closed for seven days from 5am tomorrow (Wednesday) in addition to having been fined a total of $10,000 by Liquor & Gaming and NSW Police.

Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said under the Public Health Orders, inspectors can temporarily close venues for second and third offences.

“The venue was fined $5,000 after our inspection on 5 August, where inspectors identified an out of date COVID-19 Safety Plan, inadequate sign in processes relating to not recording times of entry and digitising records, and a lack of physical distancing between chairs and tables.”

A penalty notice was issued for those offences on 7 August. Police attended the pub the next day, on 8 August, in response to a complaint from a member of the public.

When they arrived, Police observed what appeared to be one private function of 32 guests who were dancing, standing and mingling while consuming alcohol.

Police fined the venue $5,000 and then referred the matter to Liquor & Gaming to consider further action.

Liquor & Gaming reviewed the CCTV which corroborated breaches of physical distancing; 10-person limits on bookings; dancing; and staying seated while consuming alcohol.

“This is the risk posed by not following the Public Health Orders and not adequately implementing COVID-safe practices. People in large groups who are known to each other are far more likely to mingle – including by dancing – and this increases the risk of transmission.

“Each person brings with them a history of interaction with others in the community which means the more people in a group, the more close contacts they are sharing across that group.

“To repeatedly not comply with the Public Health Orders poses a clear and significant risk to public health.”

Inspectors from Liquor & Gaming, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading have issued a total of 108 fines to NSW hospitality businesses, amounting to $480,000.

Thirteen new fines were handed out between 31 August and 7 September:

  • Acacia Modern Japanese Restaurant – Gordon
  • Bare Witness – Rhodes
  • Caffe Jam – East Gosford
  • Chambers Fine Coffee – Rhodes
  • Bondi Bowling Club
  • Juan Bowl & Tea – Redfern
  • La Grillade – Redfern
  • Ningaloo Café Bar – Redfern
  • Nguyen Brothers – Alexandria
  • Rhodes Phoenix Chinese Restaurant
  • The Cockatoo Bar & Restaurant – Gordon
  • The Coffee Club - Rhodes Waterside
  • Went to see the Gypsy – Alexandria

Unity Hall will be closed from 5am on Wednesday 9 September to 5am on Wednesday 16 September.