The following update is based on our understanding and interpretation of the most recent communications from Government. As you are aware, the rules seem to change rapidly and frequently, and the feedback we regularly receive is that the information from various sources is often confusing and at times conflicting. We are doing our best to distill accurate advice for you from these various sources, but unfortunately it is not possible to make a definitive statement in some circumstances.
Snacks Satisfy the Dining-in Requirements
You are no longer required to provide food that meets the definition of a meal to customers who wish to have an alcoholic drink on the premises. This will allow cafes, small bars and other licensed premises without the capacity to prepare meals to open for on-premises trade. Snacks, nuts, chips, tapas etc are now acceptable. Social distancing rules continue to apply. As we indicated in our earlier email update, the 1.5m distancing rule does not apply to people dining in a group at the same table. The distance must be maintained between groups and tables.
Customers may order and pay at the bar or another counter, but food and drink must be brought to the table where the customers are seated. This is aimed at reducing the amount of contact between staff and customers and to assist in social distancing.
What Licence Types Can Provide On-Premises Dining?
The Government roadmap refers to ‘no bars’, which is a reference to bar service, not to the small bar licence type. From the information provided, it appears that all licensed businesses can open for on-premises liquor sales, subject to the restrictions regarding food, patron numbers and social distancing, regardless of their licence type.
Non-Essential Business, Activity and Undertaking Closure Direction (No. 10) does separately deal with “nightclubs” – that is, it prohibits the operation of a nightclub business. However, we believe that this is a reference to a nightclub style of business operation rather than to the nightclub licence category, and that the holder of a nightclub licence is entitled to operate pursuant to restaurant rules in the way ordinarily permitted under the Liquor Act, and perhaps more extensively considering all of the other concessions that have been granted.
Given the complexity around the application of the restrictions to certain licence types (like nightclubs), we strongly suggest that you call our office for specific advice about your situation if you are in any doubt at all.
COVID Safe Training
All employees must complete the free COVID Safe Work training course through TAFE Qld. Existing employees must complete the training within two weeks of on-premises trade restarting and new employees must complete it before employment commences.
The link below will take you to an enrolment page. Employees must register their interest, create an account and then enroll in the course. The course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and a certificate is provided for download. Employers should retain a copy of the certificates on the premises.
We have personally undertaken the training and it is reasonably straightforward.
Planning for Level 2 & 3 Restrictions
We have received numerous enquiries regarding licensing changes required to allow you to maximise trading opportunities as restrictions are eased further (for example, if you want to accommodate more than 20 patrons in stage 2). The most important component for the level 2 relaxations will be the adoption of a COVID Safe Plan. These are being developed by the peak industry bodies in consultation with the Health Department and are expected to be approved and available soon. For more information see the OLGR fact sheet.
You will not need to submit your plan for approval. However, if you would like any help with this, please call our office on 07 3252 4066 and one of our consultants will be happy to provide you with some advice.
You can view all our updates on COVID-19 at the link below: