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News
14 May 2020

COVID-19 (coronavirus) FAQs for the liquor and gaming industries

Following the National Cabinet’s new framework, the NSW Government has eased COVID-19 restrictions from Friday 15 May to allow more businesses to open up and more people to stay in work.

The first stage in the easing of restrictions is an important first step, and we want it to be a success, so that as venues transition back from closure, they do so safely both for their staff and their customers.

Liquor & Gaming NSW is engaging closely with stakeholders and customers to navigate the path back to work in a COVID-safe way. We will continue to offer as much support and guidance as we can.

This page will be regularly updated as announcements are made on the easing of restrictions. We encourage you to check back on a regular basis for more information.

Liquor industry

Reopening for business

If an eatery is licensed, alcohol can only be sold on the premises with, or ancillary to, food in:

  • food and drink premises such as restaurants, cafés, small bars, and the eating areas of pubs and clubs
  • microbreweries and distilleries with a drink on-premises authorisation
  • cellar door premises.

Venues must apply the 4sqm rules and patrons who are not members of the same household must exercise 1.5m in physical distancing. This means that if your venue is 12sqm, you can only seat 3 patrons at any time.

Bars and gaming facilities remain closed at this time.

Venues without a valid liquor licence must not sell alcohol under any circumstances.

If you’re a licensed café or restaurant, your primary purpose is to prepare and serve meals. Alcohol can typically only be purchased for consumption on the premises with a meal unless you hold a primary service authorisation. Restaurants with a primary service authorisation must still ensure that meals are available and do not operate as a bar.

All other licensed venues can only sell alcohol when accompanied by food of a nature consistent with the responsible sale, supply and service of alcohol. At this time, alcohol can only be sold for consumption on the premises that are permitted to open if it is with, or ancillary to, food.

Venues must apply the 4sqm rules and patrons who are not members of the same household must exercise 1.5m in physical distancing. This means that if your eating area is 24sqm, you can only seat 6 patrons at any time.

Some licensed venues can continue to offer takeaway or home deliver liquor under the temporary measures introduced to support industry during COVID-19.

Venues can have up to 10 patrons seated at any one time.

They must also continue to apply the 4sqm rules and patrons who are not members of the same household must exercise 1.5m in physical distancing.

Slightly higher patron limits apply to a venue when used for a wedding, funeral or memorial service.

Licensed venues can serve alcohol for consumption in any area on the premises where meals are provided, including:

  • defined dining areas used primarily for the consumption of meals at tables
  • indoor and outdoor bar areas, if present, with tables available for eating meals.

If you previously notified the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority through an AM0490 Cease to trade notice (PDF 673.9 KB), before you can resume trade, you will need to notify the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority through a AM0495 Re-commence trade notice (PDF 658.8 KB).

For the latest advice regarding the Hospitality industry, please visit the COVID-19 information for workplaces – Hospitality page on the Safe Work Australia website.

For special events, the following patron limits apply to licensed venues:

  • wedding – no more than 10 wedding guests, excluding the people being married, the people necessary for the conduct of, or assisting in the conduct of, the service and one photographer or one videographer or both;
  • indoor funerals – no more than 20 people, excluding the people necessary for the conduct of, or assisting in the conduct of, the service such as the funeral celebrant or minister of religion and funeral directors);
  • outdoor funeral or memorial service – no more than 30 people, excluding the people necessary for the conduct of, or assisting in the conduct of, the service such as the funeral celebrant or minister of religion and funeral directors.

Fees and refunds

Annual liquor licence base fees and trading hours risk loading fees will be waived for NSW liquor licences for the 2020-2021 fee period.

However, the waiver doesn’t apply to packaged liquor licences with four or more outlets owned by the same licensee or business.

Compliance risk loadings won’t be waived but will be deferred and included as part of the 2021-2022 annual liquor licence fees.

Key points:

  • The waiver and deferral is automatic. You don’t need to do anything.
  • In May, licensees will receive a $0 tax invoice for your records, or a tax invoice for payment if applicable.
  • 94% of licensees will pay $0 this year.

Read more about fee relief for businesses.

Yes. Applications open on 20 May and close on 24 August. Apply here. Assessments of financial hardship will be conducted and you will be contacted during this time.

Read more about fee relief for businesses.

No. New liquor licence application fees and pro-rata liquor licence fees are being waived in full for 12 months from 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021.

However, the waiver doesn’t apply to packaged liquor licence applications with four or more outlets owned by the same licensee or business.

We’re also waiving of the cost of:

  • extra authorisations submitted with a new liquor licence application
  • moving a liquor licence to a new location.

You won’t be charged application fees or invoiced for the pro-rata liquor licence fee.

However, if you submit a packaged liquor licence application with three or less outlets owned by the same licensee or business, you’ll need to pay the application fee but it will be refunded.

Read more about fee relief for businesses.

Yes. If you applied for a licence eligible for a fee waiver from 1 April and paid before the waivers were announced on 15 April, you’ll be refunded.

However, the waiver doesn’t apply to packaged liquor licences with four or more outlets owned by the same licensee or business.

You don't need to do anything. We’ll automatically process your refund, and you won’t receive a pro-rata invoice.

If you’ve applied for a packaged liquor licence and are a licensee or business with four or more outlets, you’ll need to pay your application fee. You’ll be sent a pro-rata licence fee invoice when your application has been processed.

Read more about fee relief for businesses.

Three or less outlets owned by the same licensee or business:

You are eligible for the announced fee waivers.

You won’t pay annual liquor licence base fees and trading hours risk loading fees this year.

Compliance risk loadings will be deferred to 2021-2022.

New licence applicants (1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021) will have their fee refunded, and won’t be invoiced for a pro-rata licence fee.

Four or more outlets owned by the same licensee or business:
These licences, such as bottle shop chains, are not eligible for the announced fee waivers.

You’ll need to pay annual liquor licence fees as usual. However, the payment due date has been extended to 31 August 2020.

If you’re experiencing financial hardship you can apply for an annual liquor licence fee waiver.  Applications open on 20 May. Apply here.

Read more about fee relief for businesses.

Yes. You can withdraw your application or cancel your limited licence and your application fee will be refunded in full.

We’ve contacted licensees in this situation directly by phone and email. Please email functions.notifications@liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au if you haven’t been contacted.

Liquor licensing processing times have not changed. However, some applicants have advised of delays in getting the required development consent from local councils.

Takeaway and home delivery liquor sales

Small bars and other licensed restaurants and cafes are currently able to sell takeaway alcohol and deliveries.

This has been made possible by the Deputy Secretary of the Better Regulation Division of the Department of Customer Service issuing a Statement of Regulatory Intent that outlines how compliance with certain requirements will be approached.

The statement indicates that a flexible approach will be taken where licensed venues wish to provide home delivery or takeaway services, even where those liquor licences do not authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption away from the premises.

You can only sell takeaway liquor and/or home deliver liquor if you have a current liquor licence – unlicensed venues are not able to sell liquor under any circumstances.

Licence types that may sell alcohol for takeaway and/or home delivery in NSW at the moment include:

  • Small bars
  • Licensed cafes and restaurants
  • General bars
  • Clubs
  • Microbreweries and small distilleries
  • Bottle shops
  • Online delivery companies

Licence types that may not sell alcohol for takeaway and/or home delivery in NSW include:

  • Limited licence – multiple functions if there is no defined premises
  • Limited licence – single function

The new arrangements came into force on 23 March 2020 and apply while the shutdown order is in force under the Public Health Act 2010.

No. Unlicensed venues are not able to sell liquor under any circumstances. The sale of liquor without a licence is an offence that carries a maximum penalty of $11,000 in fines, 12 months imprisonment, or both.

Yes, you can only sell liquor during the existing trading hours on your licence.

However, if you have trading hours which extend beyond midnight you cannot sell liquor after midnight (or 11pm on Sundays). This is because bottle shops and hotels must cease takeaway and home delivery liquor sales at these times.

No. Unlicensed venues are not able to sell liquor under any circumstances. The sale of liquor without a licence is an offence that carries a maximum penalty of $11,000 in fines, 12 months imprisonment, or both.

No, however you should be aware of and comply with your Responsible Service of Alcohol obligations. We will be monitoring and take action in relation to:

  • the sale or supply of alcohol to intoxicated persons, and/or
  • sale or supply of alcohol to minors

See our website for more information on appropriate evidence of age and prevention of intoxication, which may assist in preparing policies and procedures and clarifying legislative obligations.

It depends on your circumstances.

If you hold a current liquor licence for a small bar, licensed café or restaurant, hotel, club, microbrewery or distillery, bottle shop, or online delivery company, under the current arrangements you do not need to apply for a new liquor licence to sell takeaway liquor and/or home deliver.

If you do not hold one of the liquor licences listed above, then you will need to apply for a new liquor licence to sell takeaway liquor and/or home deliver.

There are no explicit limits on the volume of alcohol that can be supplied for consumption away from the licensed premise. However, formal regulations will be put in place should examples of inappropriate practices emerge.

There are no restrictions on the type of alcohol.  Pre-mixed cocktails are permitted.

Microbreweries can repackage products for takeaway sale. For example, keg beer can be repackaged into growlers (glass bottles) for takeaway sale.

Yes, compliance and enforcement action will be considered where risks to the community arise.

In particular, we will be monitoring and will take action in relation to:

  • the sale or supply of alcohol to intoxicated persons, and/or
  • sale or supply of alcohol to minors.

These are serious offences and will attract the strong, regulatory attention of Liquor & Gaming NSW.

See our website for more information on appropriate evidence of age and prevention of intoxication, which may assist in preparing policies and procedures and clarifying legislative obligations.

The Statement of Regulatory Intent applies to regulatory action under the Liquor Act 2007 only. If you have any conditions on your development consent restricting sales of liquor for consumption off-premises you need to speak with your local development consent authority.

The licensee and any staff involved in the sale or supply of liquor must have a NSW RSA competency.

Licensees may also be required to hold a licensee competency – licensees should check their training requirements by using the Licensee training selector tool.

A hotel licence already permits the sale and supply of alcohol on and away from the premises, including delivery. Existing liquor licence conditions and trading hours continue to apply to packaged liquor and hotel licences, including existing regulatory obligations under the Liquor Act 2007.

Yes, you can sell takeaway liquor and/or home deliver liquor if you have a current liquor licence for your accommodation/conference centre. Unlicensed venues are not able to sell liquor under any circumstances.

Yes, you can sell takeaway liquor and/or home deliver liquor if you have a current liquor licence for your bar.

Unlicensed venues are not able to sell liquor under any circumstances.

The full text of the Statement of Regulatory Intent is  on our website at https://www.liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/statement-of-regulatory-intent

Regulations

We have published a Statement of Regulatory Intent that outlines the approach we are taking.

NSW Police have been informed of this approach, and we are working closely with them to encourage a consistent approach.

The licensee and any staff involved in the sale or supply of liquor must have a NSW RSA competency.

If the licensee is an organisation and the appointed manager leaves the position or is stood down, a new approved manager with appropriate qualification should be appointed if the licence is trading.

Compliance and enforcement activity, including investigations, will continue. However, we will take into account a venue’s circumstances and take a commonsense approach to complaints and other issues being investigated.

Our Statement of Regulatory Intent provides more information about our approach.

If a licensed premises cannot trade for more than six weeks, notify the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority through an AM0490 Cease to trade notice (PDF 673.9 KB).

We acknowledge that many of your businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The NSW Government’s recently announced licence fee relief measures apply to certain licence holders in the entertainment and hospitality industries which have been directly and immediately impacted by COVID-19 and/or government restrictions, including closure of premises.

If you’ve been unable to attend the training in a classroom environment due to the Government’s physical distancing measures, you can undertake this training in a virtual classroom environment or online. Please click here to find an approved training provider. We are looking into other ways in which we can support businesses by potentially extending training deadlines or reducing fees. We will keep you informed of any further changes in this regard.

Given the current circumstances, round 23 of the Violent Venues Scheme has been suspended.

Clubs

Liquor & Gaming NSW recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an exceptional set of circumstances and appreciates that exceptional circumstances require flexibility on the part of the regulator.

If a club or ClubsNSW have questions about a specific requirement, please contact Liquor & Gaming NSW.

Clubs need to follow important government advice on physical distancing.

There are alternatives to meeting in person, such as teleconferences using tools like Skype or Zoom, which would comply with these guidelines and allow club boards to hold meetings as usual.

The manner by which club votes occur is generally set by each club’s constitution. The legislation does not prevent e-voting or online voting systems from being used.

Clubs need to follow important government advice on physical distancing.

There are alternatives to meeting in person, such as teleconferences using tools like Skype or Zoom, which could allow clubs to hold AGM meetings as usual.

The rules governing how members can vote and if AGMs can be deferred are usually outlined in a club’s constitution.

Clubs will need to consider this under their constitution.

If a club did defer elections, it would be sensible for the existing board to stay on in caretaker mode until elections can be run, but this depends on a club’s constitution. It is not required under the Registered Clubs Act.

If a casual vacancy arises on a club’s board mid-term (for example, if a director is affected by COVID-19) the club may appoint someone to fill that vacancy until the position is voted on at the next election. The decision to fill this position requires a majority vote by the club’s board unless the club’s constitution provides otherwise.

Visit the NSW Government website for the latest information.

Yes. Visit the NSW Government website for the latest information on the easing of restrictions to allow more businesses to open up, more people to stay in work and more personal freedoms.

Gaming machines

Yes. Tabcorp are offering industry support by suspending CMS Monitoring fees for gaming machines for a month from 23 March 2020, in light of venue shutdowns.

Tabcorp will continue to review the situation monthly and the fee suspension may be extended. If so, this webpage will be updated.

While venues may choose to turn off their gaming machines during current circumstances, it is recommended core CMS equipment (site controller and routers) should remain on.

Venues who are considering shutting down their gaming machines for an extended period should first consult their manufacturer, as there may be other considerations that could impact the performance or longevity of machines. For example, some manufacturers recommended powering on all gaming machines for a minimum of 4 hours every few days or per week to allow back-up batteries to maintain charge.

If possible, for monitoring and integrity purposes, on the last day of the assessment quarter (any time between 10am – midnight) venues should:

  • turn on all gaming machines, progressive controllers / jackpot-systems
  • leave them all running together for half an hour.

This will help the gaming machine reconciliation and assessment system process.

Hotel end of quarter dates in 2020 are 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December.

Club end of quarter dates in 2020 are 30 May, 31 August and 30 November.

Yes. Deferred payments include:

Community benefit payment:

Community benefit payments to the Responsible Gambling Fund, due from 23 March 2020 to 30 September 2020, have been deferred for six months from the payment due date.

The Office of Responsible Gambling, which administers the Responsible Gambling Fund, will contact clubs and hotels with payments due in this period, to discuss the six-month deferral.

Gaming machine lease levy:

For clubs and hotels leasing gaming machine entitlements, the levy payment to the Responsible Gambling Fund, due from 23 March 2020 to 30 September 2020, has been deferred for six months from the payment due date.

This deferral will not affect lease agreements.

The Office of Responsible Gambling, which administers the Responsible Gambling Fund, will contact clubs and hotels with payments due in this period, to discuss the six-month deferral.

Statutory payments to the Community Development Fund:

Clubs and hotels usually required to make statutory payments under the Gaming Machines Regulation 2010 up until 30 June 2020, such as unclaimed jackpot prizes and gaming machine tickets, will not be penalised if they can’t pay at this time.

Processing of cheque and credit card payments received before venue closures on 23 March 2020 have been paused to reduce the financial impact on venues during the closure.

This approach will be reassessed after 30 June 2020 or as COVID-19 restrictions on venues are revised, whichever happens first.

More information:

Please email gaming.applications@liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au.

Yes. After approvals of a Class 1 Local Impact Assessment (LIA) clubs and hotels will have a six-month extension to acquire gaming machine entitlements.

The extension applies for Class 1 LIA clubs and hotels that have been approved until 1 October 2020 to acquire all their permitted gaming machine entitlements.

More information:

Please email gaming.applications@liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au.

Yes. Normal processing is happening.

Clubs and hotels will have their gaming machine tax payments deferred from March 2020 until 1 September 2020. Please access Revenue NSW or contact 1300 139 817.

Competency cards

Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) or Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) competency cards due for renewal on or after 1 March 2020 will now have a new expiry date of 30 June 2021. This includes cards that expired after 1 March 2020.

Find out what training you must complete.

Existing licensees:

For most existing licensees, managers and club secretaries, as your RSA renewal date has been extended to 30 June 2021, you do not need to complete Licensee training and/or Advanced Licensee training until that date.

You may choose to do your training earlier and avoid an expected increase in demand for face to face training prior to 30 June 2021. Contact your nearest approved training provider to book a training course.

New liquor licence applicant

If you are a new liquor licence applicant, you must complete RSA training before you apply. If you are required to complete Licensee training and/or Advanced Licensee training as well, you now have 12 months  to complete that training from the date your liquor licence is granted.

Transfer of liquor licence

If you apply to transfer a liquor licence you will need to complete Licensee training and/or Advanced Licensee training within 60 days from receiving provisional approval.

Appointment of approved manager or club secretary

If you notify us of your intention to appoint an approved manager or a club secretary, that person must complete Licensee training and/or Advanced Licensee training within 60 days of lodging the application.

If we have your contact details in our system, we will notify you 90 days before your competency card expires that you will need to complete an online refresher course or the Licensee training and/or Advanced Licensee training. If you do not renew your competency by 30 June 2021, your competency card will expire.

Check your contact details online – visit www.onegov.nsw.gov.au and search for ‘manage competency card’.

Your existing physical competency card remains valid, despite the expiry date shown on the card. A new card with the new 30 June 2021 expiry date will not be issued.

If you have downloaded the free digital competency card, it will show the correct, extended expiry date. You can download the digital competency card for free from the Service NSW website.

If you would like a physical card with the new expiry date, they can be ordered for a fee.

More information

NSW Government COVID-19 (coronavirus) information