After what I consider to be the most challenging months for the industry I have ever seen, we are now embarking on the first steps towards recovery.
Although the easing of restrictions is limited and will proceed incrementally in stages, it is with a sense of relief we look forward to restarting and rebuilding the hotel industry in Queensland.
I assure you, here at the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) we are committed to standing with you to help forge a new path to a safe and resilient industry.
Since 15 May, OLGR compliance officers have been out and about checking that licensees understand and are complying with requirements for Queensland’s stage 1 easing of restrictions.
Education was prioritised over enforcement on the first weekend, but the importance of these requirements meant that some businesses had to immediately remedy areas of non-compliance. In some instances, they were required to stop their dining service while they made the necessary arrangements.
If an OLGR compliance officer visits your venue during stage 1, they will be checking a range of things including:
- the COVID Safe Checklist for dining in has been completed, signed, displayed and is being followed
- the maximum number of patrons for dining in is not exceeded
- alcohol consumption is secondary to the provision of a meal
- social distancing rules are applied
- cleaning and hygiene measures are in place
- record keeping is in order
- alcohol is being served responsibly.
I note that issues were identified across all these controls. There’s much information to digest, so here’s a reminder of the key things you must do to operate in stage 1.
COVID Safe Checklist
All licensees opening their venue for stage 1 dining in must complete, sign and display a COVID Safe Checklist.
You should also review and update your Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Plan to incorporate COVID-19 risks. If you have a WHS plan that covers your COVID-19 risks and you have consulted with your staff to develop it, then please continue to use it.
If you don’t have one, here’s a template WHS Plan you can use.
You must keep a register with contact information for customers, workers and contractors for at least 28 days. It must include the name, address and mobile number of a person at each table for the purposes of contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 infection.
These records must only be used for this purpose and are to be confidential and kept securely at the premises. You must not leave unattended sign-in books where customer’s personal details are freely available to others.
You do not need to collect contact information for customers ordering/collecting takeaway.
Businesses offering dining in services must ensure workers complete COVID Safe training within two weeks of opening.
Free COVID Safe training developed by TAFE Queensland in conjunction with the Queensland Government, is now available online. The COVID Safe for Dining In micro-credential is designed to build workers’ skills and knowledge to implement practices that will safeguard themselves, their colleagues and customers from COVID-19.
Register at TAFE Qld COVID 19 Response.
Responsible Service of Alcohol
You must ensure the responsible service of alcohol, including that sales are not made to minors, disorderly or unduly intoxicated persons.
Please remind your patrons who purchase takeaway alcohol from your venue that, in Queensland, drinking alcohol in a public place is illegal and on-the-spot fines apply. The only exceptions are 'wet areas' designated by a local council, normally for occasions such as a wedding in a park.
If you still have questions in relation to stage 1 easing of restrictions, here are some ways you can find useful information:
- Check how you can currently trade by licence type
- View the latest closure direction from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer for non-essential business, activity and undertaking and associated Q&A document
- Visit the Queensland Government’s latest updates and alerts for COVID-19. This includes further information on the roadmap to easing restrictions
- Follow us on social media
We’ve prepared stage 1 signage for you to download and display at your venue. We hope this helps you educate your patrons on how you are currently operating:
- 10 people dine-in limit (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- 20 people dine-in limit (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- 10 people dine-in limit, 1.5m spacing (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- 20 people outback dine-in limit. 1.5m spacing (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- COVID-SAFE venue (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- Dine-in and takeaway (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- Refuse entry (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
- Unwell, do not enter (COVID-19, Stage 1) sign
Moving towards stages 2 and 3
Stage 2 of Queensland’s Roadmap to Easing Restrictions will soon commence and will provide an opportunity for further easing of restrictions for seated dining.
Under stage 2, metropolitan Queensland licensed restaurants, cafés, pubs, registered clubs, RSL clubs and hotels may have up to 20 patrons, while those in outback Queensland may have up to 50 local patrons at a time. Under the current roadmap, casual drinking and gaming will still be prohibited.
Businesses following an approved Industry COVID Safe Plan will be able to offer services beyond the limits currently prescribed in the Roadmap. As a guide, this could be 50 people provided the one person per 4sqm physical distancing rule can be met.
From Stage 3, the maximum number of people will increase further.
Businesses who choose not to comply with the approved industry COVID Safe Plan will be restricted to the numbers listed in the Roadmap.
Opting in to an Industry COVID Safe plan
Industry representative groups are currently finalising COVID Safe Plans for consideration by the Chief Health Officer.
Once approved, the Plans will be publicly available. You do not need to be a member of an industry association to access the plans.
The following COVID Safe Plans are well-underway:
To opt in, you must follow these steps:
- Access COVID-19.qld.gov.au for the approved Industry COVID Safe Plan relevant to your business. No plans have been approved by Queensland Health at this stage, but I will keep you updated of progress
- Work through, implement the necessary controls and complete any checklists
- Complete the statement of compliance and visibly display on your premises
- Begin trading in compliance with Industry COVID Safe Plan
- Be ready to show any enforcement officers how you are complying
You do not need to submit any additional plans or checklists to Queensland Health or OLGR.
If you choose to not implement a local COVID-19 Safe Plan, you will be required to continue to comply with your WHS plan and the COVID-19 Safe Checklist and can only offer in-venue dining for up to 20 patrons (in metropolitan Queensland) and up to 50 patrons (in outback Queensland) at a time.
The Framework for COVID Safe Businesses can be viewed here.
Updates on ‘dining in’
As with any evolving situation, changes are occurring to the way in which directions by the Queensland Chief Health Officer are applied to your business.
The Chief Health Officer has clarified that:
- a meal is not required to be served to satisfy the dining in provision, and
- snacks, nuts, chips or a meal are all acceptable forms of food which can be served with alcoholic beverages.
For more information refer to the Factsheet for industry groups developing an Industry COVID Safe Plan.
Gaming machine preparation and maintenance
During the initial stages of the shutdown period you may have opted to power-off gaming machines. You may have received advice from your LMO or gaming equipment suppliers about recommended gaming machine maintenance, particularly in relation to gaming machine battery-backed components. To cater for the varied gaming machine suppliers and models, advice typically indicates that powering-on your gaming machines for a minimum of four hours at a time, once every three days, will help ensure battery components remain sufficiently charged.
Your LMO will continue to ensure all gaming machines are unable to be played before 10 July.
Please take care when powering your gaming machines back on. In particular:
- ensure gaming machines are individually powered off before turning the mains power on
- turn mains power on
- progressively power each gaming machine on one at a time
- turn on site controller and other communications equipment.
Gaming machines that are already powered on, should continue to remain on, and should be largely unaffected.
Towards late June/early July, LMOs will be coordinating efforts to power back on gaming machines by the commencement of Stage 3. This early period of preparing and testing will enable LMOs and venues to determine whether any repair work is required and arrange for this to occur. LMOs are putting together advice about this and will contact you. We will provide a link to this advice in a future update.