NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has revealed that in the five weeks since releasing the mandatory guidelines for the safe operation of hospitality businesses, just ten per cent – approximately 11,000 venues – have formally registered their Covid Safe plan with the state government. Nearly 120,000 businesses downloaded the guidelines when they were released in late May, but the majority have failed to register how they would be implementing safety rules.
The premier said state authorities were “extremely concerned” about the lack of compliance with safety guidelines, with many “basic things” such as removing salt and pepper shakers and recording the names and contact details of diners, being ignored. To address the issue, the premier said state authorities would be clamping down on hospitality venues not complying with the current guidelines. She also called on NSW residents to challenge business owners that appear to be ignoring Covid Safe rules, such as ensuring patrons have four square metres of space.
While specific details on how the state will be enforcing Covid Safe guidelines have not yet been released, the premier foreshadowed a media briefing due to take place on July 9, saying that tweaks to the health orders currently in effect in NSW would be announced.
These words of warning come in the wake of Melbourne’s second shut down in response to a surge in new cases in the city and across Victoria. On July 6, it was announced that the border between NSW and Victoria would be sealed from midnight on July 8. Premier Berejiklian urged NSW residents to avoid visiting border towns in NSW, where some new cases of infection have been detected. Anyone wishing to travel into Victoria will need to apply for a special permit to do so until further notice.
As millions of Melburnians face six weeks of lockdown from midnight on July 9, premier Berejiklian had a simple message for NSW: “Do not let your guard down.” Adding that the situation in Australia could evolve very rapidly, as has been the case in some other countries where lockdown conditions were eased prior to a significant surge in new cases, Berejiklian called on people across the state to observe physical distancing and remain vigilant about hand and cough hygiene when in public.