Repeated breaches of COVID-19 safety standards have forced New South Wales authorities to close The Rivers Restaurant in Thredbo for one week.
It is the second such venue in NSW to be shut down after authorities closed Unity Hall Hotel in Rozelle last month.
NSW Police and Liquor & Gaming NSW visited The Rivers Restaurant four times in July and September.
The authorities identified several breaches including:
- Patron numbers exceeding the venue capacity per square metre,
- A lack of spacing between seated patrons,
- Mingling between tables and in queues, and
- Alcohol being consumed while standing.
As such, the venue will be closed for seven days from 5am tomorrow.
Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said messaging about COVID safety did not get through to the operators of The Rivers Restaurant.
"This venue has consistently failed to maintain COVID safety standards and has not complied with its own COVID safety plan," said Argeres.
"Police officers and Liquor & Gaming inspectors observed situations where the venue was repeatedly over capacity, groups were seated almost back to back, and queues of up to 30 people stood shoulder to shoulder. They also observed patrons drinking shots at the bar and consuming liquor while standing, including one of the business owners.
"First the venue was warned, then its manager and event promoter were fined $5,000 each. After finding yet more breaches on the fourth visit, it was clear that the ongoing operation of the premises presented a clear and significant risk to public health."
Argeres hopes other venue operators will take notice of this action.
"As we come into party season with major events such as the Spring Racing Carnival, Bathurst 1000 motor race, the footy finals, and schoolies celebrations, we're warning all hospitality providers and function operators to stick to the limits around venue capacity and group bookings," Argeres said.
"Distance and space are crucial: to avoid sharing close contacts groups must stay seated at a distance from other groups."
NSW has recorded one new case of COVID-19 today - a returning traveller in hotel quarantine.
NSW eases wedding restrictions, NYE fireworks may go ahead
Restrictions on weddings have been eased today by the NSW Government, meaning bridal parties of up to 20 people can be on the dance floor at the same time.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the permitted group would need to be the same 20 people for the entire event.
"This is really important because weddings, and unfortunately funerals and other gatherings, is where the virus is most contagious and spreads the most readily because people know each other," said Berejiklian.
"It is still a high risk environment and we ask both the patrons but also the function organisers to make sure that the bridal party, up to 20, is clearly identified and is not different multiples of 20."
The Premier has also expressed hope that the iconic New Year's Eve fireworks display at Sydney Harbour will go ahead, acknowledging it will be very different this year.
"Whilst the New South Wales Government is working our way through holding some type of fireworks event on New Year's Eve, can I stress it will not be like any other New Year's Eve we have had," said Berejiklian.
"I want to be clear that the New South Wales Government would never support or condone any activity which was not consistent with the health orders.
"It would be extremely limited in a COVID safe way that is within the health orders."
Updated at 11.40am AEST on 24 September 2020.
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