Updated 1 June 2020
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 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 2020 made on 30 June by the Minister for Health and Medical Research enables food and drink premises, casinos, microbreweries or small distilleries with a drink on premises authorisation, and cellar door premises to open with customer limits.
All operators must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and keep a record of all people entering the premises. Please refer to the Public Health Order and the FAQs for how customer limits and related requirements impact on your business.
Venues may continue to sell food or drinks for persons to consume off the premises. Customers waiting on the premises to collect take-away are included in the limits on capacity above.
Hotel or motel accommodation food or drink services can be offered without restriction for the normal operation of accommodation services.
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.
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.
Liquor & Gaming NSW appreciates that premises that are permitted to open to the public are not able to operate at their full capacity while customer limits and seating requirements apply under the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 4) 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:
Licensees must nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of patrons, having regard to the number of patrons present and whether they have multiple existing seated areas open and the requirement to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan for the premises.
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 liquor 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 4) 2020 remains in force, unless otherwise advised.
Gaming machines may only be operated in line with NSW Health social distancing guidelines. The approach to operating gaming machines, and meeting distancing guidelines, is one of the matters that should be covered in a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
Clubs and hotels are required to provide information to their patrons about how to gamble responsibly and to promote Gambling Help services and self-exclusion.
Liquor & Gaming NSW will undertake proactive compliance activity to ensure clubs and hotels are complying with responsible conduct of gambling requirements. All normal requirements relating to the operation of gaming machines, gaming machine signage, restrictions on access to gaming areas and gambling harm minimisation requirements will apply.
Any gaming machine that is made available for game play must be connected to the Central Monitoring System (CMS). Venues must view their CMS Site Controller screen daily and ensure that each playable machine is not showing as a disconnected machine.
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 NSW Government website at www.nsw.gov.au.