The Hospitality Messenger

Special Edition no.1

The Hospitality Messenger is very conscious of WA’s liquor, hospitality, event and tourism industries being hit hard by the current COVID-19 situation and wants to express support and assistance.

Restriction on gatherings of more than 100 people   – what does it mean?

The Prime Minister has just announced that gatherings of more than 100 people are restricted across the country.  This applies to licensed premises.  The Media Statement is here.                                  

It says that:

non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020…

An indoor gathering refers to a gathering within a single enclosed area (i.e. an area, room or premises that is or are substantially enclosed by a roof and walls, regardless of whether the roof or walls or any part of them are permanent, temporary, open or closed).

Unfortunately, the definition of “enclosed area” is not clear.  The Hospitality Messenger sought clarification from the Director of Liquor Licensing today.   We have been told that the Health Department will be issuing practical guidelines.  It is not known when that will occur, but presumably in the next day or so.  

It is recommended that licensees take a conservative approach at this stage, to minimise the various potential risks.  It seems that the reference to “room” could allow for up to 100 people to be in a single area of a venue whereby that area is delineated by some physical wall or similar structure.

Tips to mitigate trading effects of COVID-19

  • If your licence authorises take-away, maximise on that service.  For example, enhance your delivery offering; increase promotion of the service. 

  • If your business is capable of selling take-away liquor but your licence does not provide for a drive-thru, or you do have an approved drive-thru but it is restricted so that you cannot serve people seated in their cars, consider applying urgently to alter or vary the licence.

  • If you have an outdoor area equipped to potentially cater for more patrons than the licence currently allows, consider applying to urgently vary the licence capacity condition for that area.

  • Establish appropriate and dedicated allocated individual spaces for people who would ordinarily work in an office, to be able to work temporarily from your venue.

  • Tell patrons through social media about steps you are taking to minimise health risks and care for patrons. 

Safety

Managing the impact of COVID-19 from ‘work health safety’ and employment perspectives can potentially raise some tricky issues. For example, if employees are required to self-quarantine, how should this be handled from salary and leave perspectives?                     

If employees are required to work from home, they still require a safe work environment.  How should this be handled by the employer? If these or similar questions are relevant to your business, Lavan’s Employment & Safety team can assist.

The Hospitality Messenger has been in contact with the office of the Director of Liquor Licensing regarding its position in the current climate.  The licensing authority has restricted the operations of its in-person front counter and is currently reviewing the situation as regards its personnel. It is recommended that anyone dealing with the licensing authority be patient.  Delays with some things are to be expected.

COVID-19 in Australia has created very uncertain times.  Circumstances are constantly and rapidly changing. Business owners are encouraged to be patient and to closely monitor information published by government authorities.  Seek advice when in doubt.

The Prime Minister’s announcement today (referred to on the previous page of this publication), states the following which clearly indicates a need for businesses to stay alert to new regulations:

The states and territories will give further consideration to practical guidance and rules for non-essential indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people (including staff) such as cinemas, theatres, restaurants/cafes, pubs, clubs, weddings and funerals. This will be considered at the next National Cabinet meeting on Friday 20 March 2020. In the meantime these venues should continue to apply social distancing and hygiene practices.

  • This includes being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between patrons. 

  • Hand hygiene products and suitable waste receptacles need to be available, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal

The Hospitality Messenger will endeavour to publish reliable supplementary material to assist business owners in the liquor, hospitality, event and tourism industries as and when it becomes available.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE HOSPITIALITY MESSENGER PDF