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18 May 2020

Statement of Regulatory Intent in regards to COVID-19 coronavirus

Updated 18 May 2020

Liquor & Gaming NSW – Liquor Act 2007 – Regulatory approach in the context of COVID-19

This statement sets out the enforcement approach that Liquor & Gaming NSW will take to compliance with certain specified requirements as set out under the Liquor Act 2007 and the Liquor Regulation 2018 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liquor & Gaming NSW recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an exceptional set of circumstances and will have significant impacts on the businesses we regulate. Liquor & Gaming NSW appreciates that exceptional circumstances require flexibility on the part of the regulator.

The Public Health (COVID-19 Places of Social Gathering) Order (No 2) 2020 made on 14 May by the Minister for Health and Medical Research requires that food and drink premises, microbreweries or small distilleries with a drink on premises authorisation, and cellar door premises can only be open to the public when they:

  • are selling food or drinks for not more than 10 persons at any time to consume on the premises, but only if any liquor sold is sold with, or ancillary to, food served in an area for eating on the premises (e.g. a dining area);
  • are selling food or drinks for persons to consume off the premises; or
  • are being used as a venue for a wedding, funeral or memorial services under the limits on the number of people for those types of gatherings specified under clause 6(3) of the Order.

There are also exceptions for hotel or motel accommodation to provide food or drinks to people using the accommodation to consume in their rooms.

In these circumstances, Liquor & Gaming NSW will take a common-sense and pragmatic approach to enforcing the liquor and gaming laws. In particular, it is recognised that the risk profile of certain venues has changed and measures put in place to manage these risks are, in the current environment, largely redundant.

While legislative requirements remain in force, Liquor & Gaming NSW will have regard to the unprecedented pressures on industry and take a reasonable and proportionate response to compliance.

Arrangements to apply while orders are in force under the Public Health Act 2010

Take-away liquor sales and home deliveries

Not all licensed premises are authorised to sell alcohol for consumption off the premise. Noting the current restrictions on normal trade at licensed premises, Liquor & Gaming NSW will take a reasonable approach to compliance with these requirements.

This includes where a licensed premises, such as a restaurant, café or small bar, does not have authorisation for the sale or supply of liquor for consumption away from the premises, but wishes to provide take-away or home delivery services.

Any sale of liquor, including take-away sales and taking or processing orders for home delivery, must occur from the registered address of the licensed premises.

All licenced premises making take-away sales or undertaking home deliveries should have a system of controls in place to ensure that liquor is not sold to minors or to intoxicated persons. The Liquor & Gaming NSW website, www.liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au, contains more information on appropriate evidence of age and prevention of intoxication, which may assist in preparing policies and procedures and clarifying legislative obligations.

Restrictions on patrons seated at licensed venues

Liquor & Gaming NSW appreciates that premises that are permitted to re-open to the public will not be able to operate at their full capacity while patron limits apply under the Public Health (COVID-19 Places of Social Gathering) Order (No 2) 2020. In recognition of this, Liquor & Gaming NSW will also take a flexible approach to enforcing certain licence conditions that are aimed at managing public amenity and safety risks at times when venues are operating at their full capacity.

This includes licence conditions requiring:

  • the presence of security guards, responsible service of alcohol (RSA) marshals or other staff members with designated roles that are designed to help minimise harm when venues may operate as normal (e.g. designated glass collectors);
  • patron ID scanners to be operated at certain times.

Licensees must nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of patrons, having regard to the number of patrons present.

General compliance and enforcement approach

Liquor & Gaming NSW will generally take a supportive and educative approach to compliance with the above requirements during this time except in cases of significant risks to patrons or the community, and will also take into consideration genuine attempts to comply with licence conditions and other requirements.

It is important to note that compliance and enforcement activity will continue, but with a primary focus on matters that pose significant risk to public safety and community wellbeing, and in particular the sale or supply of alcohol to intoxicated persons or minors. These offences are considered to be some of the most serious under the Liquor Act 2007 and attract significant penalties, up to and including a term of imprisonment.

This compliance approach will remain in place for as long as the Public Health (COVID-19 Places of Social Gathering) Order (No 2) 2020 remains in force, unless otherwise advised.

More information

Liquor & Gaming NSW will continue to monitor the situation and engage with industry and industry representatives as appropriate.

For more information please refer to the Liquor & Gaming NSW website or the Department of Customer Service website at www.customerservice.nsw.gov.au

Read frequently asked questions for the liquor and gaming industries