Sydney pub fined $10k over birthday lunch where 40 guests mingled

A pub in Sydney’s inner west has been fined for COVID-19 breaches after a complaint about a birthday lunch where 40 guests mingled in breach of public health orders.

The Red Lion Hotel in Rozelle has been hit with a $10,000 fine by Liquor and Gaming NSW, after footage of the event was seen by inspectors.

A spokesman for Liquor and Gaming said when police went to the venue, everyone attending the party was seated and observing COVID-19 rules.

But when they viewed CCTV footage, it was clear that guests had been mingling, shaking hands and hugging and standing while drinking before police arrived.

The booking was for four groups of 10 people, but the Red Lion had “skirted” the rules by splitting the booking, Liquor and Gaming Director of Compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said.

“It’s these sorts of social get-togethers that can spark a cluster and, when it comes to events like birthday parties and weddings, we’ve seen how quickly people are tempted to forget the rules and throw caution to the wind,” he said.

“Extra conditions were imposed on hospitality premises because they are higher risk spaces: people consume food and drink there — they stay longer and they touch more surfaces, which means there is more opportunity for the virus to spread.”

The hotel was also fined for other issues found by inspectors, such as having an out-of-date safety plan and patrons seated too closely at other tables.

Bars, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs across NSW have so far been fined $304,000.

Meanwhile, NSW health authorities recorded just one coronavirus infection on Friday — the lowest number in 50 days.

It is the lowest number of new cases since July 2, when there were no new infections reported and on August 18, when there were three.

The new case is a close contact of a previously reported case at Hornsby Hospital.