'It's our happy hour': State to allow 50 people into pubs

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·News Reporter
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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the state will allow 50 patrons inside pubs, cafes and restaurants from June 1 as she continues to roll back coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Berejiklian’s government has skipped the National Cabinet’s recommendation for step two which advises 20 patrons.

“The task force reported to me that, through consultation with the industry, there was too much confusion in having a further step in the approach,” she said of her decision.

Venues will still have to adhere to social distancing restrictions, and can only accomodate one patron per four square metres.

Gladys Berejiklian made the annoucement on Friday afternoon. Source: ABC
Gladys Berejiklian made the annoucement on Friday afternoon. Source: ABC

There will be “no mingling, no standing around,” the premier said, revealing group bookings cannot exceed 10 guests.

Patrons will also need to be seated while inside the venue.

The NSW government is working with venues to ensure patrons also supply their name and phone number when entering venues.

“We've opened up the regions and now it's our happy hour, time to wine and dine,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro boasted.

He insisted there will be “strong” regulations and guidelines the hospitality venues must adhere to to be able to accomodate patrons.

“We want people to do the right thing. We want people to stay safe. We don't want to see the transmission of COVID in the regions,” Mr Barilaro said.

Currently, dining venues can only have a maximum of 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the move would return “thousands” of jobs back to NSW.

“Do what New South Wales residents have always done, have a great night out with your friends, but be cautious, be careful, and this will work to the advantage of the entire community, but also keep you safe,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.

Two men enjoy schooners at Sydney's oldest pub, Fortune of War. Source: AAP
Two men enjoy schooners at Sydney's oldest pub, Fortune of War under current restrictions. Source: AAP

“NSW is leading Australia yet again.”

He said patrons should be "washing your hands like you've never done before".

The increase in patronage aligns with the easing of regional travel restrictions across the state and the opening of museums, galleries and libraries from June 1.

Ms Berejiklian said any venue found breaching the rules would be shut down.

Hotels Association welcomes ‘important’ step

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan described the move as an “important and positive step forward” for NSW pubs.

Mr Whelan said the entire industry welcomed today’s further lifting of restrictions by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“The entire hospitality sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis with hotels shut down across NSW and 94% of our workforce of 75,000 stood down or terminated,” he said.

“From June 1 we can start re-employing our staff and open up our hotels once again as a great place for our communities to meet, relax and socialise.

“Today’s announcement is a common sense move – it will be particularly welcomed by our NSW country hoteliers as regional NSW opens again for travellers.”

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