Bars close within minutes of PM’s speech
THE state's liquor licensing watchdog says it will conduct inspections of Glitter Strip venues to ensure stiff new restrictions to help halt coronavirus are followed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrision introduced a 100-person limit for non-essential indoor gatherings earlier this week to combat the pandemic. Today he squeezed that further, saying venues would now only be allowed to host one person per four square metres or 25 people for every 100 squares metres of space.
It prompted some immediate closures on the Gold Coast including Nightjar in Burleigh and NightCap at Nobby Beach, with defeated owner and small bar king Scott Imlach simply saying: "It's tough."
Mr Morrison said in a televised address: "If you've got a room, if you've got a premises, if you've got a meeting room, that's 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.
"These are rules we are putting in place to support people making good decisions," he said, adding it was all about "slowing the rate" of infection.
State Government this week rushed new powers through Parliament to be able to enforce the extraordinary social distancing restrictions, with fines of $13,000 for people who flout the rules and $333,600 for companies.
On Thursday, when the limit was still at 100, the Office of Liquor and Gaming confirmed it will be looking to ensure "compliance".
"OLGR appreciates these are challenging times for industry and the situation is rapidly evolving," it said in a statement.
"The restrictions on non-essential indoor gatherings as outlined by the Prime Minister are clear, and licensees have both a legislative and social responsibility to provide a safe environment and to mitigate the risks of the spread of COVID-19.
"OLGR will continue to conduct compliance inspections and investigations, determined on a case-by-case basis.
"OLGR continues to work with the hotel and club industries in relation to the ongoing response to COVID-19."
Some citywide venues had already shut before yesterday's new restriction was announced.
Vinnies Dive Bar in Southport announced on Wednesday it would close "until at least April 1st".
Alleyway bar Taboo Tiki in Surfers Paradise also announced their closure but they didn't have a return date.
"We value the health of our staff and guests above all else and with this and the recent restrictions, we regret to inform you that due to the COVID-19 virus, Taboo Tiki will be shut until further notice," a statement from Taboo Tiki posted on social media said.
Operators spoken to by the Bulletin were expecting the further restriction and said they were already planning to close.
Originally published as Coast bars close within minutes of PM's speech