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Pubs to gain increased capacity as state government brings forward stage two (again)

The Golden Wattle
Sia Duff
Capacities for pubs have been lifted, but many venues will have to shake up their models and floorplans to meet the fine print

Pubs and venues will be granted larger capacities and theatres and galleries allowed to reopen as the state government continues to bring its COVID-19 rollback timeline forward.

The second stage of easing restrictions will now take effect from 1 June – a week earlier than originally date laid out close to a month ago.

“Originally Stage 2 was due to begin on June 8,” Premier Steven Marshall explained in today’s briefing. “But our good results in terms of cases over the last two weeks, plus high level testing gives us confidence to move [forward].”

From Monday 1 June pubs and other venues will now be able to serve a maximum of 80 people excluding staff. But there’s an important caveat – venues must split that maximum capacity into separated areas each with their own cap of 20 patrons. This restriction is fairly easy to visualise for some venues; The Exeter, for instance, has a floorplan separated into two front bars, a dining room and rear beer garden that could be demarcated without too much difficulty. Venues with larger, more open spaces – like Pirie Street’s The Golden Wattle, for example – may have to introduce temporary partitions, if they decide to immediately reopen at all.

They will also be allowed to serve alcohol to (seated) patrons without serving meal, a requirement that has been in place since alcohol service and indoor dining tentatively, and somewhat confusingly, resumed last week. That rollback – allowing venues to allow 10 indoor diners at a time and serve alcohol alongside food – saw many businesses scramble to resume service after it was announced on Wednesday 20 June.

Some ended up hitting a brick wall when a later clarification that only venues with restaurant and café liquor licenses – not small venue licence holders – were eligible. Pirie Street restaurant Osteria Oggi was one such business, telling The Adelaide Review on Friday they were “devastated” when authorities told them the news shortly before they planned to reopen their doors. By 4.30pm, however, Marshall announced by media conference that, actually, all venues with dining capability could reopen. Life comes at you fast.

Jonathan VDK
Osteria Oggi was one of several venues briefly caught in the confusion of last Friday’s relaxed restrictions – they’re now open for limited indoor dining

“Patrols were out checking on compliance as we have done with every aspect of these restrictions,” Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said of the weekend’s rollback. “The level of compliance was impressive and significant – people are embracing these changes as they’re released and doing their best to comply.”

This compliance, Stevens said, was one of the factors that has given authorities the encouragement to move further forward.

Stevens also said venues must print and download a ‘checklist’ outlining the ways their businesses will enforce the new restrictions and safety measures from 1 June, which must be produced if visited by a member of the constabulary. This checklist, yet to be published, will hopefully contain enough information to provide more clarity to business owners.

The ongoing principle of one person per four square metres, and 1.5 metre social distancing will still apply. So while catching up for a pint will soon be permitted, boozy arm-in-arm Chumbawumba singalongs remain off the menu.

In the initial roadmap, Step Two also includes the gradual reopening of cinemas, theatres, galleries, museums, beauty salons, gyms and spectator-less competitive sport. While many had already announced 8 June reopening dates, it remains to be seen how many will move forward to the new, earlier date. Update: AGSA has now brought its reopening date forward to 5 June.

As of Monday 25 May there have been a total of 439 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Australia, with zero active cases in the state. Of that tally, 435 people have officially been cleared of the virus, with over 90,000 tests undertaken. Readers are advised to consult SA Health’s website for the latest information.

Read the state government’s COVID-19 recovery plan here

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
See Profile

Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country.

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