What to expect as some pubs and restaurants etc re-open from 18 May 2020 in the wake of COVID-19

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Your questions answered…in a practical way

From Monday, 18 May 2020 most licensed premises in Western Australia have the option of reopening to the public for dining and drinking, but in a restricted way.

Q: Are all venues open?
Q: Are all venues open?

A: No.  Not all venues are allowed to re-open at this stage (for example, nightclubs must remain closed) and some venue owners will choose not to open their doors to people dining-in and may only continue with a take-away service or no services at all.   Venues are not obliged to trade and many may wait until the current restrictions are relaxed further before opening their doors again.  It's best to call ahead if you are planning to visit a particular venue.

Q: Can I head to the pub just to have a beer?
Q: Can I head to the pub just to have a beer?

A:  No.  You will need to order a meal if you want alcohol.  Every person who wants to have a drink at a venue will need to also eat a meal.

Q: What kind of meal? Can’t I just order some crisps?
Q: What kind of meal? Can’t I just order some crisps?

A:  The food that the business must provide and that you need to order, must be substantial enough to be regarded as a proper meal, like most people would usually have for lunch or dinner.  It cannot just be a snack.  You also have to eat the meal at a table designed for dining.

Q: I like to stand at the bar when I go to the pub. Can I do that?
Q: I like to stand at the bar when I go to the pub. Can I do that?

A:  Not at the moment.  Venues are only allowed to sell and supply alcohol to people who are sitting at a table and who have ordered a meal.

Q: Why are things so restrictive?
Q: Why are things so restrictive?

A:  Because the priority is to protect people’s health.  To help maintain distance between consumers and to help keep proper tabs on everyone, venues are only permitted to operate in this way at the moment.

Q: I have heard that I will need to give the venue my contact details. Is that true?
Q: I have heard that I will need to give the venue my contact details. Is that true?

A: Yes, if you want to dine-in.  You should expect to be asked to provide your name and contact information by staff.   This is required by the government for contact tracing purposes.

Q: What if I don’t want to provide my contact details?
Q: What if I don’t want to provide my contact details?

A:  You don’t have to, but you won’t be able to stay there or have a meal or drink there.  If you do not provide your details, staff should ask you to leave.  You may still be able to order take-away.

Q: Will social distancing rules apply inside the venue?
Q: Will social distancing rules apply inside the venue?

A:  Yes.  All patrons will need to be a distance of 1.5 metres from each other.  There is an exception to this rule for people attending the venue who live in the same house.  Therefore, if you go to a venue with a group of friends who live in different places you can sit near each other but you must be at least 1.5m apart.  If you go to a venue with your housemates, or your partner who you live with, or anyone else who usually lives in the same house as you then you can sit closer together.  But when you get up from the table and go to the bathroom, or walk around, you must make sure that you stay at least 1.5m away from people who you do not live with.  There is also an exception where there is a proper and substantial dividing partition between people.  For example, two people who do not live together could be less than 1.5m apart inside a venue if they are on opposite sides of a wall that separates them.

Q: Can staff reach into my 1.5m personal space to put my meal on the table?
Q: Can staff reach into my 1.5m personal space to put my meal on the table?

A:  Yes.  Wait staff should be quick when doing this and avoid contact.
 

Q: How many patrons can be at the venue at the one time?
Q: How many patrons can be at the venue at the one time?

A:  Up to 20 dine-in patrons maximum across the whole entire venue.  The actual number can vary from place to place, depending on its size and other factors.  The rule is one patron per four square metres of floor space, up to a maximum of 20 patron diners.  Any venue with a public area over 80m2 can potentially accommodate up to 20 patrons at any given time provided that the venue can operate with enough space for everyone to be 1.5m apart.

Q: My local pub has completely separate areas in it, including a large beer garden and separate inside sections. Can’t there be 20 patrons in each part of the venue?
Q: My local pub has completely separate areas in it, including a large beer garden and separate inside sections. Can’t there be 20 patrons in each part of the venue?

A:  No.
 

Q: What if a customer is not drinking any alcohol – are they still counted in the patron number?
Q: What if a customer is not drinking any alcohol – are they still counted in the patron number?

A:  Yes.  The number limitation relates to “patrons” generally, not just people drinking alcohol.

Q: Are children required to be counted in the patron numbers?
Q: Are children required to be counted in the patron numbers?

A:  Yes, however, the State Government’s guidelines relate to “patrons seated at tables”, therefore, babies in prams or parents’ arms should not have to be included in the calculation.

Q: Will I be able to order from the usual menu?
Q: Will I be able to order from the usual menu?

A:  It depends.  Only substantial food which qualifies as a proper meal can be served.  Most venues are likely to trade from a set, limited menu under the current restrictions.  You may find that your favourite dining places have different menus at the moment.

Q: Will there be a time limit on eating?
Q: Will there be a time limit on eating?

A: Many venues are likely to be operating from a set menu with bookings required for set periods of time and they may limit how long patrons can stay.  This will allow venues to serve as many patrons as possible.  But you can’t stay there for long periods drinking alcohol because of the requirement for liquor to be consumed ancillary to a meal.

Q: Am I limited to having just one drink?
Q: Am I limited to having just one drink?

A: No, not necessarily.  It will depend on how the venue operates and how long it takes for your meal to be prepared and for you to eat it.  You could potentially order a drink at the same time as ordering a meal and then another drink during the meal.  Remember that the liquor must be consumed as part of the meal process.  Venues are still required to ensure that patrons are not drunk.

Q: How long can I stay for?
Q: How long can I stay for?

A: That will be up to the venue management.  You may only be able to stay for a specified period of time.  Maybe an hour and a half, for example.  This is because most venues will want to serve as many diners as possible in a day.  Therefore, they may have a policy of limiting how long people can stay.

Q: When I go to the pub usually I just rock-up to meet mates there, without making a booking. Can I still do that? Or, do I have to make a booking now?
Q: When I go to the pub usually I just rock-up to meet mates there, without making a booking. Can I still do that? Or, do I have to make a booking now?

A: It will depend on the venue.  Many will require patrons to make a booking so that they can know how many diners to expect and so they can properly prepare and manage the patron capacity limits.  You should check before visiting a venue.

Q: My local has an alfresco area. Can I order take-away food and then sit outside in the alfresco area to have a drink while I eat?
Q: My local has an alfresco area. Can I order take-away food and then sit outside in the alfresco area to have a drink while I eat?

A: Possibly yes, but maybe not. It will depend on several things. It is up to the venue management if that kind of service will be permitted.  You would have to be included in the 20 patron limit because indoor and outdoor areas of the same venue are counted as one total area.  Only 20 dinein patrons maximum are potentially permitted across the whole total area.  You would also have to be eating something that qualifies as a substantial meal and be seated at a dining table.

Q: Can I go outside for a smoke while I wait for my meal or during the meal?
Q: Can I go outside for a smoke while I wait for my meal or during the meal?

A: Possibly, however, because venues are restricted to the number of dine-in patrons venue managers may prefer that you don’t do that, or you may have to wait before you can get back inside.

Q: How long will all of these restrictions last?
Q: How long will all of these restrictions last?

A: Nobody knows at this stage unfortunately.  Maybe until the end of May 2020, or maybe longer.  Some changes may possibly be made along the way to the current rules, to make it less restrictive.  For example, maybe more than 20 patrons will be permitted soon.

AUTHOR
Jessica Patterson
Partner
AUTHOR
Dan Mossenson
Emeritus Partner
AUTHOR
Alec Weston
Senior Associate
YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:
09 September 2020
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