Coronavirus NSW: Crackdown on pubs and patrons as 'mystery cases' cause concern

Authorities in NSW are set to further clamp down on pubs that aren’t meeting COVID-19 safety measures, while the state’s police force has been instructed to hand out more fines to those flouting the rules.

New pub restrictions came into effect at midnight this morning which mean group bookings are capped at 10 people, but the state government could shut down venues as early as next week if they cannot demonstrate they have met the COVID-safe requirements, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The crackdown comes as 41 coronavirus cases have been now linked to the outbreak at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian desperate to ensure similar outbreaks do not occur, warning “high risk” activities could face further restrictions.

Creating further concern for health officials is three mystery cases that could potentially signal the birth of new clusters in the Sydney area.

Cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel continue to rise. Source: AAP
Cases linked to the Crossroads Hotel continue to rise. Source: AAP

Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello has now written to all pubs across NSW indicating that their safety plans must meet current standards and be rolled out by Monday or face a fine of up to $5,000.

If by Thursday pubs are not registered as COVID-safe, they face the prospect of being closed for a week, and if by July 27 they are not in compliance, a venue could be closed for a month.

“Businesses need to take this COVID pandemic seriously and if they can’t do this then they should not be in business,” the letter sent to pubs warns.

Police to ramp up fines for rule breakers

It comes as NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has instructed his police force to get tough with businesses and individuals flouting restrictions, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“We need to ensure that we don't see additional spreads of the virus through bad behaviour," Commissioner Fuller said in a video address.

"We've taken a pragmatic approach but a fair approach to businesses, understanding that everyone's under enormous pressure, but I think it is time that we start to issue tickets over using discretion."

On-the-spot fines in NSW for breaching public health orders sit at $1,000.

Commissioner Fuller’s order comes after several house parties in the Bondi area were shut down by NSW Police over the weekend, yet the scores of attendees breaching social distancing rules weren’t fined and were simply moved on.

The three confirmed NSW cases without a known source are two women in their 40s in western and southwest Sydney and a man in his 30s in Wollongong.

"Obviously we are concerned when we find cases that can't be linked back [to outbreaks] because it does indicate that we've missed a chain," Dr Chant said on Thursday.

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