A Korean BBQ restaurant in Strathfield NSW has been fined $5,000 for having an open buffet where diners shared crockery, cutlery and food.
When SafeWork NSW inspectors visited Butchers Buffet on 11 September, they observed patrons accessing plates, condiments, serving utensils, bowls and trays of food as well as shared utensils on tables.
There was no safety marshal in place or stated limits on the maximum number of customers allowed on the premises. Chairs and tables were not adequately spaced, and CCTV footage showed patrons were not physically distancing when helping themselves at the buffet.
These sorts of breaches defy logic, said SafeWork NSW director work health and safety metro, Sarina Wise.
“Self-serve buffets and pandemics simply don’t mix, creating a source of potentially contaminated items,” Wise said.
“No self-serve buffet style food service areas are allowed including communal bar snacks and communal condiments.
“Sharing items on a buffet is clearly a direct line for COVID transmission.”
In addition to the risks posed by buffets, hospitality businesses across the board are being warned against complacency, as inspectors from Liquor & Gaming NSW, SafeWork NSW and NSW Fair Trading recently issued 23 new fines for COVID breaches.
To date, hospitality businesses have been dealt 150 fines totalling $658,000.
“We’re calling on the public to hold businesses to account; if you visit a venue and find yourself back to back or shoulder to shoulder with other patrons, if you see poor hygiene or no sign in processes, report it via the COVID safety feedback portal on nsw.gov.au,” Wise said.