On June 1, many of the rules currently restricting the ways hospitality businesses in NSW operate will be significantly eased. However, there will still be a set of strict guidelines – which the state government is now describing as a ‘checklist’ – that venues will need to follow in order to trade.
Below we've unpacked the new checklist (which was released to the public on May 28) and breakdown how the latest changes may impact the average night out in NSW.
More types of venues will be allowed to trade
Cafés, restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars have been allowed to reopen for seated dining since May 15. Now, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries are specifically described as being among the businesses allowed to trade from June 1.
Large venues may be able to host a lot more people
From June 1, the capacity of a dining space must not exceed 50 customers or “one customer per four square metres in an existing seated dining area, whichever is lesser.” This means that only venues of at least 200 square metres can have the maximum capacity of 50 punters, and smaller venues will need to calculate their maximum occupancy based on their relative size.
Individual bookings may not exceed ten people, which is to say that no more than ten people are allowed to share a table. However, venues will now be able to count different rooms within the same premises as separate dining spaces, meaning that, if space allows, certain venues could potentially have a lot more than 50 people dining at any given time.
Venues will be able to “symptom screen” customers if they suspect they are unwell
This could even include doing on-the-spot temperature checks before allowing customers entry. It will be a requirement of hospitality businesses to advise customers not to come if they are at all unwell when they book and to clearly display this particular condition of entry both within the venue and on any digital platforms including social media profiles. Venue operators will be able to “exclude” customers or staff from the premises if they seem to be exhibiting any concerning symptoms.
You’ll be required to give your contact information to the venue before you can enter
All hospitality venues will be required to take the names and contact details of every “seated diner” and hold onto those details for at least 28 days. This is to ensure contact tracing is possible if an outbreak is linked with a particular venue. The guidelines also suggest that, if a customer can show they have the CovidSafe app (the government’s contact tracing app) installed on their phone, they may not be required to leave their details.
Venues may need to overhaul their layouts
Customers need to be able to exercise the 1.5-metre physical distancing protocols that have been in effect for the last ten weeks while inside a venue. The government checklist also recommends reducing the opportunities for surfaces, such as door handles and menus, to be touched. This may necessitate major rethinks of standard restaurant layouts.
If possible, venues have been advised to “use separate doors for entry and exit; separate customer order and collections points; offer only table service; and reduce crowding wherever possible and promote physical distancing with markers on the floor in areas where people are asked to queue, such as at the bar.” They've also stipulated that menus must either be virtual, laminated or single-use.
Gaming machine areas will be allowed to reopen
Keep in mind that customers using gaming machines will still be included in the maximum capacity limit of each seated table service area. If gaming machines are in a separate room, users will not be allowed to move between that space and any other space in the premises. So if you fancy a go on the pokies, that might limit the scope of your night out.
Winery, distillery and brewery tours will be allowed
However, they will be limited to a maximum of ten people per tour group and they will need to be able to observe physical distancing and enhanced hand hygiene at all times, which may impact the number of people who can tour smaller businesses.
Live music performances will be allowed again (but bringing your flute or clarinet is discouraged)
This particular rule reads a little like it’s been lifted from the screenplay for the sequel to Footloose: “Due to the risk of transmission, group singing should be avoided and solo singers should maintain physical distance from other people. Wind instruments (such as flutes and clarinets) may also be higher risk and should be avoided.” The silver lining to this somewhat of a killjoy rule is that it suggests that live music performances can recommence, provided the requisite precautions and physical distancing is followed.
Buffets and self-service counters are not allowed
This extends to communal condiments, including salt and pepper, and even self-service water. Condiments will likely still be available, but you’ll need to request them rather than helping yourself. Strangely, hookahs (Middle Eastern flavoured hasheesh pipes) are also included under the bracket of “self-serve” items that are banned. Cutlery or single-use items like straws and napkins will also be removed from publicly accessible areas. Controversially, the latest guidelines recommend single-use cutlery over reusable, washable cutlery. So much for low-impact living.