'It's our happy hour': NSW to allow 50 seated patrons in pubs and restaurants from June

Bar staff making drinks at the Rio, Summer Hill, Sydney. Source: AAP

Up to 50 people will be allowed to enter pubs, cafes and restaurants in NSW from 1 June, providing they remain seated.

Up to 50 people will be able to dine in restaurants, pubs and cafes from 1 June as the NSW government eases more COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday announced the "big and critical" step for the state, but said very strict rules would be in place for venues.

"The last thing we want to do is shut businesses down because they haven't complied," she told reporters in Sydney.

Venues will still have to allow at least four square metres of space per person.

Additionally, bookings of more than 10 people will be banned, and patrons won't be allowed to stand.

Currently, dining venues can only have a maximum of 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing. That includes alcohol table service with meals at NSW pubs and clubs.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro says relaxing restrictions will help boost regional businesses which have suffered through drought, bushfire and the pandemic.

"It's our happy hour - it's time to wine and dine," he said on Friday.

The increase in patronage aligns with the easing of regional travel restrictions across the state and the opening of museums, galleries and libraries from 1 June.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the decision to allow 50 patrons for seated dining from 1 June will allow thousands more people to return to work.

"Going to 50 will give the opportunity for the majority of restaurants, the majority of bars across our state to open," he told reporters.

NSW earlier on Friday reported its 50th COVID-19 death after an 80-year-old woman died in Concord Hospital. Her death brings the national toll to 101.

SA eases restrictions

Meanwhile, the South Australian government has bowed to pressure and further eased coronavirus restrictions after admitting to causing confusion across the hospitality industry.

New measures came into force on Friday allowing some cafes and restaurants to serve up to 10 patrons indoors as well as 10 outdoors.

But many venues were unsure if the new rules applied to them, with distinctions made according to the type of liquor licence in place.

Premier Steven Marshall conceded this had caused issues for some businesses, and the government had acted to simplify the rules.

"To clear up that confusion we are happy to provide a further relaxation of the arrangements in South Australia," he said.

"Effective immediately, any establishment with indoor dining can avail themselves of the reduction in restrictions."

SA Premier Steven Marshall speaks to the media during a press conference in Adelaide, Wednesday, May 20, 2020
SA Premier Steven Marshall speaks to the media during a press conference in Adelaide, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The measures also allow pubs to open immediately, but still rule out front bar service with patrons having to be seated.

The changes will remain in force until 5 June, when SA will move to stage two, which is likely to result in larger numbers allowed in most venues.

Other businesses including cinemas, theatres and indoor gyms will also be free to open.

Authorities are finalising the new provisions which will give individual businesses a role in deciding how they proceed, taking into account the risks involved and their proposed mitigation strategies to keep COVID-19 at bay.

South Australia again reported no new virus infections on Friday.

So far the state has had 439 confirmed cases but none are still considered active. SA has only had one new coronavirus case over the past 30 days.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
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