An investigation is underway over a photograph of crowds queuing outside a Sydney pub on Wednesday night despite coronavirus rules still being in full force.
Hundreds of people appeared to be queued outside The Golden Sheaf in Sydney’s inner eastern suburb of Double Bay about 9pm on Wednesday.
Two hours later, according to a witness, it was no shorter, leaving others shaking their heads at the blatant disregard for social distancing.
Hundreds criticised the establishment and those waiting in line for their respective irresponsible conduct in comments to the photo, which was uploaded to Reddit later on Wednesday.
NSW regulations state that the capacity for licensed venues must not exceed one customer per four square metres of space, meaning patrons are required to wait outside if a venue is full.
It is also a requirement that venues in NSW “introduce strategies to manage gatherings that may occur outside the premises” according to current coronavirus rules.
Investigation into social distancing breaches underway
Liquor and Gaming NSW is now investigating claims of social distancing breaches.
“We are treating this matter extremely seriously,” Director of Compliance Operations Dimitri Argeres said.
“Venues should be aware that Liquor & Gaming NSW conducts both overt and covert inspections to check for compliance with COVID restrictions.”
NSW Police were called to the venue at about 9pm and assisted security to restrict the number of people in the queue.
A walk-through of the establishment confirmed the Golden Sheaf was adhering to social distancing rules inside the venue.
No patrons were fined.
Crowds slammed for lack of social distancing in coronavirus era
Social media users were quick to condemn the behaviour of those in line, many concerned about a rapid spread of COVID-19 if there were one or two in the group with the disease.
“What part of social distancing don't these people get? You maybe young and get a mild case or you can be young, survive but with ongoing health problems for the remainder of your life,” one Reddit user responded.
“Everywhere is like this lately. People are stupid. I don't get how everyone went from panic buying to this,” someone else wrote.
Others argued it was inexcusable of the establishment to allow patrons to queue in such an unsafe manner and called on the venue to be fined or shut down.
“Surely the venue should be fined for this,” one wrote, with another suggesting it be “closed”.
“Establishments which breach distancing requirements and endanger its patrons should be shut down. Just like any breach in hygiene standards - except worse,” another said.
“This is pretty outrageous on the venue's part,” a third wrote.
Many claimed they had witnessed similar scenes outside other venues in Sydney, including in Newtown in the inner west.
Several people expressed their disgrace at the people shown lining up, and some predicted that scenes like this would see NSW locked down again, just like Victoria.
“This is why we can't have pubs open. They either need to be closed or they have appropriate security inside and out. Makes my blood boil as we've stayed home, upended our lives and done everything we can to stay safe. Utter morons,” one person wrote.
Solotel Group, which operates The Golden Sheaf, told Yahoo News Australia it was “practicing strict social distancing and COVID hygiene and safety procedures”.
Venue will now ‘employ extra staff’ to stop queues
“We abide by NSW Health Guidelines throughout all of our venues, including the Golden Sheaf. All of our staff are inducted into the new COVID hygiene practices as a mandatory,” a statement from CEO Justine Baker read.
“We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously, which is why we will now be taking bookings only on Wednesday nights from 8pm and we will be employing extra staff and security to ensure social distancing is adhered to and we have a maximum of 20 people in our queues at any one time.
“We employ management and security staff to monitor queues constantly – at the Golden Sheaf last night we worked immediately with police to disperse the crowd and ensure social distancing measures were established.
“It is the collective responsibility of all staff, guests, operators and authorities to ensure the safety of each other.”
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