It has been great to see so many Queensland venues open their doors again in the last month or so, and I look forward to seeing more venues reopen as restrictions continue to ease.
Of course, one of the next major milestones in that process is the implementation of Stage 3 in the State Government’s roadmap, which commences on 3 July 2020. Stage 3 includes an increase in the size of certain permitted gatherings, but it is also significant in that venues will be allowed to reopen their gaming facilities (including pokies as well as TAB and Keno facilities) for the first time since the shutdown came into effect on 23 March. As such, I wanted to touch on some of the requirements and other considerations that you should bear in mind when reopening your gaming facilities.
It is worthwhile to note that the reason the government has delayed the reopening of gaming to this point is because the operation of gaming facilities carries increased risks for the spread of COVID-19. In particular, gaming machines, cash redemption terminals, ATMs, and self-serve terminals for Keno and TAB play are all high contact points which could spread the virus if touched by an infected person. Staff in gaming areas also tend to come in to regular contact with patrons such as when completing payouts, which again increases the risk of transmission.
The Industry COVID Safe Plan (Industry Plan) includes a special checklist for managing these risks once you are permitted to reopen your gaming rooms. At the time of writing, further updates to the Industry Plan, including the gaming checklist, are in the process of being approved by Queensland Health, so we suggest you look out for the latest Industry Plan as soon as it is approved. We anticipate the updated checklist will include many measures that you will be familiar with by now if you have been operating from the Industry Plan during Stage 2 - for example, keeping contact information for all patrons, displaying various signage explaining the new rules to patrons, reminding people to practice good hygiene, and marking out 1.5 metre floor spacing.
Two key requirements for gaming rooms in particular will be the sanitisation of your facilities, and continuing to take steps to encourage the 1.5 metre social distancing rule.
As to hygiene and sanitisation, you should be cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as TAB and Keno terminals, Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) and ATMs on a regular basis and where possible, after each use. Gaming supervisors may need to complete a log to track each EGM’s sanitisation schedule. Where possible, venues should encourage card-based play and cashless transactions to minimise the use of cash. The Industry Plan sets out a best practice manual payout procedure.
All in all, I am looking forward to the easing of restrictions in Stage 3 and the responsible reopening of further venues, which will provide a much needed boost for the hospitality industry. I know there is a plethora of information circulating at the moment, so I hope this article provides some clarity to those who are feeling overwhelmed or confused. However, if you have any questions about the reopening of your venues or the operation of gaming facilities during Stage 3, please do not hesitate to call me on 07 3224 0230.
To view Curt Schatz previous article in the June 2020 QHA Review click here.