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Inside at Single O cafe
Photograph: Katje Ford

New restrictions announced for restaurants and bars in response to growing outbreak

Hygiene marshals, lower capacities and capped group bookings are amongst the new rules

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced new restrictions on cafés, restaurants and bars, which will come into effect next Friday, July 24. Group bookings, which had previously been allowed for as many as 20 people, will be capped at a maximum of ten patrons. All customers in hospitality venues will only be allowed service if seated, and “high-risk” activities such as singing, dancing and mingling will be strictly prohibited. Weddings and corporate events will be capped at a maximum of 150 guests, and funerals and congregations at places of worship will be capped at a maximum of 100 attendees. Venues must continue to abide by the four-square-metre rule, which has been in place since businesses began reopening in May.

These new rules on restaurants and bars follow hot on the heels of the announcement of tougher operating rules for pubs, clubs and RSLs, which come into effect today, July 17. 

Some of the new measures are to ensure venues are following guidelines released weeks ago, after the state premier revealed that just 10 per cent of businesses in NSW had registered a plan outlining how they would be applying safety protocols. From today, it will be mandatory for all pubs, clubs and RSLs to file a plan with the state government that clearly outlines how physical distancing, hygiene, cleaning and contact tracing measures will be implemented.

Large venues will now only be permitted to have a maximum of 300 patrons at any one time, and group bookings in any pub, club or RSL will be capped at ten people, reduced from the previous maximum of 20 people.

An entirely new measure being launched today is the introduction of ‘hygiene marshals’ who will be responsible for ensuring rules are being followed. These marshals will be appointed from within a business’s existing staff, and no formal training will be required for the role. Venues with a capacity between 250 - 300 people will be required to have a marshal on duty at all times while venues with a capacity of less than 250 people will only require a marshal on duty at peak times. 

Among their responsibilities, marshals will be required to sign in all patrons into a venue, collecting their contact information before permitting entry, so that contact tracers  would be ableto alert affected patrons should an outbreak be linked to a venue. Failure to comply with these rules is punishable by a $5,000 fine. The Star Casino in Pyrmont and the Golden Sheaf pub in Double Bay were both fined $5,000 this week after both venues were found to be ignoring safety guidelines.

These new rules have been introduced in response to the Crossroads Hotel outbreak in Casula, which is currently linked to 42 known cases. This cluster was caused by a man who traveled from Melbourne to Sydney on June 30 to attend a work function at the Crossroads Hotel.

As Sydney faces the challenge of community transmission, it's more important than ever to follow responsible practices when leaving the house. Here's our guide to going out in Sydney safely.

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