NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has unveiled her roadmap for hospitality returning to unrestricted trading between now and December 1. The plan could see punters standing and having a drink in pubs within weeks.
The state is set to hit its 70% vaccination goal on October 11. The NSW Government’s 70% roadmap will lift fully vaccinated people out of lockdown. However, given updated health advice, regional travel will not be allowed until 80% (fully vaccinated only), and a booking cap has been introduced for hospitality venues of 20 people per booking.
Australian Hotels Association NSW director John Green said the roadmap for reopening was “very pleasing” and would provide a boost to venues and tourism operators.
“Once people can get out of Greater Sydney and start to move around regional NSW, we’ll see that regional tourism will go off the chart,” he said.
“[I’m] a bit disappointed that it’s no longer going to be October 11 at the 70% [double-dose vaccination] mark that was originally predicted. It has been moved back today. As has the imposition of a 20-person booking cap that regional NSW will also have to comply with.”
Restaurant & Catering Australia chief Wes Lambert said consultation between industry and the NSW government had been fantastic.
“NSW’s hospitality industry is on cloud nine today and we would like to thank the NSW government for their ongoing consultation during this period,” he said.
“This road map will give certainty in the most uncertain of times. Additionally, the news that weddings will no longer be capped once vax rates reach 80% is a huge win for the industry.”
“This will cost me millions”
Restaurateur Luke Mangan said the road map is “the best way forward,” despite the strict rules until December 1.
However, not everyone is embracing the changes. Rashays Restaurant founder Rami Ykmour has decided not to open his 30 restaurants until December 1 when everyone – vaxxed and unvaxxed – are welcome.
While Ykmour is vaccinated himself, he wants to remain hospitable to everyone.
“You get into the hospitality business to welcome people, not turn people away,” he said. “This will cost me millions of dollars but I just have to be true to who I am.”
From October 11, hospitality venues can have one vaccinated person per 4sqm inside and one vaccinated person per 2sqm outside, with drinking while standing allowed outside.
Here are all the rules in a clear infographic:
The following changes to hospitality venues will apply for fully vaccinated people from the Monday after the 80% milestone is reached:
- Up to 200 people can attend COVID Safe events
- Up to 500 people can attend controlled (ticketed and seated) events
- Hospitality venues can operate with one person per 4 sqm inside and one person per 2 sqm outside, with the requirement to be seated while drinking indoors removed. Group bookings will be limited to 20 people.
- Those who are not fully vaccinated can only access hospitality settings for takeaway
- Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can operate with one person per 4 sqm, capped at 5000 people (or by exemption).
- Entertainment facilities (including cinemas, theatres, music halls) can operate with one person per 4 sqm or 75% fixed seated capacity (whichever is larger)
- Amusement centres and nightclubs will remain closed
- One person per 4sqm (uncapped) for weddings with dancing permitted and eating and drinking allowed while standing.
- Those who are not fully vaccinated may only attend weddings with a maximum of 5 guests (no receptions)
- Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask while outdoors
Berejiklian noted that even at 80% double dose, people will still need to exercise “a huge degree of caution”.
“I don’t want to be the party pooper but I’ve said let’s not think about this as a freedom day, but let’s think about this as a staged reopening to getting back to normal,” she said.
NSW is expected to reach 90% double dose on December 1, which is when unvaccinated residents will be allowed to join in on the extra freedoms.
- Density will shift to one person per 2 sqm for indoor and outdoor settings
- No limit on the number of people who can attend informal outdoor gatherings
- COVID Safe plan required for outdoor events with more than 1000 people
- Hospitality venues can operate with one person per 2 sqm inside and outside, with no seating required for eating and drinking
- Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can operate with one person per 2 sqm.
- Entertainment facilities (including cinemas, theatres, music halls) can operate with one person per 2 sqm
- Amusement centres and nightclubs can open with one person per 4 sqm.
- One person per 2 sqm for weddings with dancing permitted and eating and drinking allowed while standing
- One person per 2 sqm for funerals
- Domestic travel, including trips between Greater Sydney and Regional NSW
- Masks wearing will be mandatory while travelling on public transport, on planes and at airports, and for front-of-house hospitality workers.
Rules for unvaccinated people
The premier said “it will really be up to the businesses” if they choose to stop unvaccinated people entering their shops, restaurants and venues.
“I appreciate people have views,” Berejiklian said. “The legal system supports the measures (which) in exceptional circumstances governments have to adopt. I appreciate some individuals will have very strong views and want to take matters up, and that is a matter for them.
“We won’t be distracted as a government, we will do what’s right by the community. There are laws in the system to allow governments to make these decisions in exceptional circumstances and I think everybody would agree that a pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.”
However, Restaurant and Catering Association chief executive Wes Lambert said he wants clarity on the health orders for 70%.
“The hospitality industry must see the public health orders to know the mechanics of reopening day and how it applies to vaccine status,” he said. “The liability can not be on the business.”
Australian Hotel Association NSW director John Green also said seeing draft health orders would give the industry more certainty for its planning.
“We need to be sure that only allowing vaccinated patrons into premises is mandated under the public health order,” he noted.
Debate rages over vaccination passports in pubs
The hospitality industry is facing a difficult crossroad over the coming months as it deals with the contentious issue of vaccination passports.
A survey of 1200 Australians by Glow has found that nearly six out of 10 Australians will avoid any venue or business that allows unvaccinated people to come in.
However, one in 10 Australians (11%) say they will leave their job if their employer makes the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory – a figure that rises to nearly one in five among young Australians.
Victor Dominello (above), NSW Minister for Digital and Customer Service, shows a draft of the vaccination integration with the Service NSW app.