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How hotels, clubs and restaurants can exceed PM's 100-person limit

"Esther Granados" (2020-03-31)

Bars, clubs, restaurants and cinemas can still fit far more people through their doors than the newly imposed 100 per head limit, thanks to a massive loophole.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's 100-person limit on indoor venues is now in force in a desperate bid to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic as it continues to rapidly spread across the country.

The unprecedented decree will likely remain in place for six months and refers to a gathering within a single enclosed area.

It means large venues with more than one room can still exceed the limit. 

Popular Sydney night spots such as The Establishment (pictured) can exceed the federal government's 100-person limit indoors if they have more than one enclosed area

'It applies to each room, and more advice will be provided later this week after the medical experts work through all the various scenarios. The limit includes staff and patrons,' a Prime Minister's Office spokesman later told Daily Mail Australia. 

Many licensed hotels and clubs are still struggling to grasp what the new restrictions mean for them. 

Many venues have pulled the plug on live music acts to keep with the 100-person limit. 

Those with beer gardens can have up to 500 patrons outside 'in most cases,' according to a Australian Hotels Association spokesman.  

Sydney's casino The Star was forced to close some of its services until further notice, including eatery Harvest Buffet, entertainment facility Lyric Theatre and nightclub Marquee. 

All other dining and bar facilities at the casino remain open with no change to their opening hours.

The Ivy Pool Club (pictured) can have up to 500 revellers outdoors under the strict measures

Merivale is yet to comment on how its popular venues will be affected which included The Ivy and The Establishment. 

In the Sydney's trendy inner city Newtown, a sign on the windows of the Town Hall Hotel states a 100 patron limit per level.

But the nearby Union Hotel is taking a more cautious approach by adopting the 100-person limit to its premises.

'We're yet to fully grapple with this and how the venue functions in this new territory, so we will continue to adjust and coordinate with our staff, customers and industry friends,' the pub posted on Facebook.

'We're being as sensible and safe as possible, so please be patient with us if any inconvenience over the next few weeks is caused.'

Restaurants will be restricted to 100 diners per room at any one time. Pictured are diners in Sydney's Barangaroo precinct before the new laws were enforced on Wednesday

Rockpool Dining Group says most of its restaurants remain open but are obliging with the federal government's capacity quotas. Pictured is Bar Patron in Sydney's Circular Quay

Further west, a screening at Parramatta Leagues Club of the A-League derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and crosstown rivals Sydney FC which will be played without fans remains advertised on the club's website.

For clubs, the 100-person restriction applies separately to each enclosed area within the premises, according to Clubs NSW. 

'A club with a gaming machine room and a bar may separately impose a 100-person cap on the gaming machine room and a 100-person cap on the bar. The 100-person count includes club staff,' the website states.

'Outdoor areas which are not enclosed, such as bowling greens and beer gardens, may adopt the 500-person limit. 

'Where there are outdoor gatherings of less than 500 persons, clubs should ensure that there is no more than one person per four square metres.'

The coronavirus had already taken a devastating toll on City Tattersalls in Sydney CBD's Pitt Street, where club visitations have plummeted in recent months.

The club has regrettably and reluctantly' announced a series of temporary closures to some dining and bar services.

Sydney's Opera Bar was deserted on Wednesday after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a ban on non essential gatherings of more than 100

'Our gymnasiums are down by 50 per cent, Zest Restaurant is down by 60 per cent. Our gaming installation is presently suffering a 30 per cent downturn in revenue and that figure is likely to increase,' club chairman Patrick Campion said in email to members on Wednesday night.

'The Lower Bar is presently a very lonely place for want of customers.' 

He added service in the Lower Bar will be shut down from close of business Friday 'until things return to normal. 

Due to low number, the club's Zest Restaurant will be open for lunch only  with the  withdrawal breakfast and dinner services until further notice.

City Tattersalls' Legends Diner will be open for dinner only for after-work patrons to watch sport on the big screens. 

'Given the Federal Government's advice relating to gatherings of over 100 people, we will stop hosting functions and delivering entertainment until things change,' the email states. 

A new sign at Town Hal Hotel in Newtown states the 100 person per level policy

While many of the Australian Hotels Association's 5000 member venues have more than one room and capacity to hold more than 100 patrons, the impacts are already being felt.

'It will have a devastating affect on a range of venues that serve the people of NSW and Australia,' AHA NSW director of liquor and policing John Green told Daily Mail Australia.

'Live music has been cancelled and many licencees have told me they've already been forced laid staff off.'

'A lot of hotels have many rooms but even for those have the capacity of up to 3,000, it's still going to extremely difficult.'

'The most important aspect is that venues maintain the required level of social distancing.'

Mr Green urged people to continue to support hotels while being understanding of the new capacity restrictions. 

'While other sectors have closed, we are grateful the government has given us permission to continue to trade and that hope that patrons continue supporting our members the best they can,' he said.  

Cinema have been forced to limit movie screenings to 100 people per screening (stock image)

Hoyts and Dendy Cinemas have announced movie screenings will have a maximum 100-person limit but can many more if they hold more than one film at the same time.

'We have already taken steps to reduce our seat count to no more than 50 per cent of seats available per auditorium, and in our larger auditoriums, we have set the maximum capacity at 100,' the Dendy website states.'

'We have also implemented staggered seating procedures to facilitate social distancing within our auditoriums.'

Hoyts also announced similar measures.  

Neil Perry's Rockpool Dining Group has taken immediate steps to comply with the new laws.

'Most of our restaurants remain open for business, with current bookings spaced out so that we remain within the government's quotas,' its website states.

'We are in the process of discussing with some customers moving their bookings to different time slots, with minimal disruption to their plans. 

'Each venue will maintain a strict customer headcount, and this will be rigorously monitored. At some venues we have reduced opening hours and consolidated menus. We will assist staff and guests to practice social distancing where practical.'

Three hours after Mr Morrison announced the measures, the daunting reality of counting patrons was also being practised at Souths Juniors in Kingsford, one of Sydney's biggest poker machine venues.

A woman stood at the door with a counter in her hand.






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The government's new measures have forced many pubs to pull the plug on live music. Pictured are patrons previously enjoying a band at the Newtown Hotel in Sydney

With restaurants, gaming areas and a fitness centre all under the one roof, the club's board of directors met urgently on Wednesday morning to discuss how they would police and even interpret the new regulations.

At the time Daily Mail Australia attended there were more than 300 people on the premises, but it there did not appear to be more than 100 in any one space.

Liam O'Keeffe, the publican of The Welcome Hotel at Rozelle, in Sydney's inner-west, feared pubs would be forced to close, if they were restricted to having 100 inside, including the staff.

'It could be the nail in the coffin for a lot of businesses,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'There will be businesses out there that are already struggling significantly and this will mean they will probably close their doors.' 

Scott Young, the owner of Churchill's Sports Bar (pictured) in Kensington, Sydney, said he was not sure how his business would handle the new laws

At Souths Juniors club just up the road, a woman was using a counter at the door to ensure the premises did not become too full - but there was confusion over whether the law applied to the whole precinct, or to a single floor of the multi-storey building

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the laws were likely to be in place for at least six months, but they had already had an impact by lunchtime on Wednesday

Mr O'Keeffe, who has run the family pub for seven years, said his venue needed to have at least 300 people inside to be profitable on a Friday or Saturday night.

With up to 20 people on duty during a busy night, his business would be restricted to having only 80 patrons inside at a time when half his 13 casual staff have had to lose their shifts.

To survive, situs online judi terbaik he is hoping more patrons buy alcohol at the bottle shop or order takeaway food as he employs fewer people.

'If I cut back on staff then we can maintain, probably not profitability, but at least we're not sinking in the mud,' Mr O'Keeffe said.

The Welcome Hotel, most likely, won't be making a windfall on Anzac Day, traditionally the most lucrative day of the year. 

A party for the local Balmain Tigers AFL club and a 60th birthday bash have already been cancelled for this weekend.

The Churchill's Sports Bar, at Kensington in Sydney's south-east, has already begun stockpiling kegs of beer in case supply lines were shut down.

Scott Young, the publican for the past three decades, said the 100-person cap would hurt his business, which relies on crowds to justify the cost of buying the rights to televise world title fight boxing bouts.

'The biggest fear is that we'll have to shut completely,' he said.

Melbourne's normally bustling laneways were virtually empty on Wednesday

'Pubs are normally very lucky, we're quite malleable and can react very quickly to try and stay relevant - but there's so many changes at the minute it's hard.

'If it's a 100 person limit then that's what it is, we just have to deal with it, but we'll make an effort to look after the regulars.'

Numbers were down even before Mr Morrison's announcement.

'In saying that, today it's dead,' Mr Young said. 'Normally there'd be five times as many people, probably more.

'Over the last few weeks its been a steady decline, but since Friday its been a big drop off.'

The pub's manager David Gregory said their inability to show pay-per-view events, like last month's Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder boxing world title fight, would hit business.

 The biggest fear is that we'll have to shut... completely

Scott Young, Churchill's Sports Bar owner 

At a cost of $2600 to screen the fight, Mr Gregory said that with a maximum of 100 patrons they could simply not afford to show it.

'If you run your pub 365 days a year, you rely on some certain days to get your big earns every few months,' he said.

'We normally show every single fight. We even buy the dead ones at 4am just because everyone knows you can watch every fight here at Churchill's.

'It's not like we do entertainment or any of that, all we do is sport and at the moment there ain't much sport. You're in strife if you can't get those earns.'

The Australian Hotels Association, the national umbrella group for 5,000 hotels, said the rule would be devastating for business.

'There's no doubt this ban on more than 100 people gathering in venues will have a devastating impact on our workforce of more than 250,000 and will also impact our millions of patrons across Australia,' the group's chief executive Stephen Ferguson said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Crown Resorts has this week introduced social distancing measures at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.