South Australia's pubs and nightclubs have been warned they could be facing strict penalties if they flout public safety measures designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Liquor and Gambling Commissioner Dini Soulio said that while most venues had opened in a responsible manner, there had been a concerning rise in the number of venues that appeared to be ignoring their duties in enforcing physical distancing.
“I appreciate that licensed venues are keen to get back to business as usual,” Mr Soulio said.
“But the fact is these measures are in place to save lives.
“The experience interstate has shown that clusters can be linked back to licensed venues, and we do not want to see that scenario repeated here.
“Places that offer alcohol and dancing are at a high risk of spreading COVID-19, which is why it is so important that these venues adhere to strict physical distancing measures.
“Without an approved COVID Management Plan, it is unlawful for a venue serving alcohol to allow patrons to dance.”
Mr Soulio said several licensed venues have already received warnings or hefty fines over the weekend, and repeated breaches could result in serious consequences.
“Venues that fail to comply with the Emergency Management Direction relating to dancing and physical distancing are putting the health and welfare of their staff and patrons – and in turn their friends and families - at risk and we will take appropriate action in response,” he said.
“This could include the imposition of urgent enforcement measures ranging from a requirement for increased security at venues to reduced capacities or reduced trading hours and – in the most serious cases - a complete shutdown of the venue.
“Holding a liquor licence is an important responsibility – and the licence holder is responsible for ensuring the venue is properly managed.
“This includes enforcing those physical distancing requirements that are there as a necessary public health measure.“
Mr Soulio said most places had already successfully implemented a COVID-safe plan, and were doing an good job of maintaining physical distancing and hygiene practices.
“But now is not a time for complacency, and we all need to remain vigilant.
“Venues need to rigorously following physical distancing and hygiene requirements.
“Regular cleaning and disinfecting of all surfaces is a simple but crucial measure. “
“I appreciate this is an incredibly challenging time for our small businesses and that the hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard.
“I encourage them to continue doing the right thing so we can all continue to enjoy going to our local restaurants, hotels, bars and nightclubs.”