The pub lunch is back on the menu in NSW after a stunning backflip from Government yesterday that the industry has hailed as a win for common sense.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian had originally said yesterday that cafes and restaurants could better adhere to social distancing measures than a pub – and therefore they wouldn’t be reopening until Stage 3 of the restriction measures.
But by yesterday evening her Treasurer Dominic Perrottet reversed that view and said pubs would now fall under the same blanket as cafes and restaurants in the state.
It’s now a question of whether it is economically viable for pubs, clubs and hotels to re-open under the NSW Government’s strict Stage 1 guidelines. From tomorrow, they may open their doors to the public to serve food and alcohol via table service only to a maximum of 10 patrons at a time.
“It gives NSW venues a consistent understanding of what the guidelines are and a level playing field with others across the industry,” John Green, director of liquor and policing for AHA NSW, told Beer & Brewer .
“Our members can now make their own economic decisions whether they re-open or not.
“It shows the Government are assessing things as they emerge and are willing to change their views when circumstances dictate. We see it as a win for common sense.
“Our hotels have consistently shown a clear understanding of compliance and we’re confident they can operate under these guidelines and be in a strong position to operate safely when further reviews are made by Government in regards to capacity.”
The rules state tables need to be 1.5 metres apart and customers won’t be able to approach the bar to order. A pub’s gaming facilities will remain closed.
“This is an important first step, and we want it to be a success, so that as venues transition back from closure they do so safely both for their staff and their customers,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We realise the smaller venues will be the ones who gain most, but we are working hard to ensure we open in a safe manner and get the economy back up and firing.”
One such NSW small pub planning to re-open tomorrow is the Royal Albert Hotel in Surry Hills.
Publican Mick Bain was jubliant he could re-open his doors and kick-start the channels that have a flow-on effect across the industry.
“We’re so keen to get on with it. We know we aren’t going to make a lot of money out of it but we are open for business,” Bain said.
“We can now bring back some staff and start buying beer and food from our suppliers.”
Bain said the Royal Albert would open daily from 12pm to 8pm tomorrow and would be taking bookings for two hour blocks. He said he would cut back his menu to their most successful dishes to keep costs down.