Since the announcement on May 10 that restaurants and cafés would be permitted to reopen for seated dining, two further significant concessions have been made. Firstly, on May 13, it was announced that pubs, RSLs and clubs (gaming venues) would also be permitted to open for seated dining. Now, the office of Brad Hazzard, the NSW minister for health and medical research, has given the green light for small bars to be added to the list of establishments allowed to reopen their doors to hungry punters from May 15.
However, bars will be required to observe strict rules should they decide to open. These include that all meals must be prepared on-premises; menus and physical touchpoints, such as chairs, tables, door handles and card machines must be regularly disinfected; and condiments such as salt and pepper and other self-service seasonings must be removed.
Perhaps most controversially, any patrons who have not downloaded the CovidSafe app will be required to register their name and contact details before entering, to allow contact tracing if an outbreak is linked to a venue. Physical distancing rules and capped occupancy limits will also be in effect.
This latest development is in response to calls from the Night Time Industries Association and the Independent Bars Association of NSW to roll back the closure orders that have kept bars shuttered since mid-March. Karl Schlothauer, president of the Independent Bars Association welcomed the good news for bar owners while acknowledging the stipulations venues must stick to. “While there is a big challenge around the commercial viability of the ten person rule, it is great news for our industry to be included in the first stage of restrictions,” he said.