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Two more venues hit with $5,000 fines for COVID safety breaches

Liquor & Gaming NSW has fined Watsons Bay Hotel $5,000 for COVID safety breaches that included patrons drinking alcohol while standing and no spacing between gaming machines.

The breaches were detected during an undercover operation in Sydney’s east on Friday night which found the vast majority of venues are complying with the conditions and providing a safe environment for patrons.

Inspectors who visited Watsons Bay Hotel found several instances of patrons drinking alcohol together while standing, as well as separate groups of patrons seated at tables within 1.5 metres of each other.

All gaming machines were operational and there was not 1.5 metres between each machine. This was contrary to the hotel’s COVID Safety Plan which requires every second machine to be switched off.

Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said Watsons Bay Hotel is the 15th NSW venue to be fined for COVID safety breaches in the past three weeks.

“While most venues are making serious efforts to comply with all the conditions, it’s disappointing that some are simply not getting the message,” Mr Argeres said.

“Flouting these measures is not only bad for the health and safety of patrons; it’s also bad for business.

“This latest penalty serves as a reminder to all hospitality businesses that the chances of being caught for non-compliance are high.

“In addition to 240 inspectors from the NSW Department of Customer Service, there are over 15,000 police officers who can inspect venues at any time anywhere in NSW.”

Mr Argeres said Liquor & Gaming NSW’s operation on Friday night also found the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Double Bay to be fully compliant with all COVID safety conditions.

The hotel was the first to be fined under the NSW Government’s new COVID enforcement powers when police were called to disperse a crowd of up to 250 pubgoers queueing to enter the venue on 9 July.

“It’s pleasing that the Golden Sheaf has learnt from its mistake and was not only found to be fully compliant but was also using best practice measures such as having staff escort new patrons to tables and drinks being served to tables,” Mr Argeres said.

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