Regulators take action over COVID public health order non-compliance

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 5 August, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news
National News

A number of businesses in Sydney have been ordered to close for a week as a result of COVID public health order safety breaches.

One business, Pete’s Organic Market in Mascot, was ordered to close for repeated breaches and visits from police.

NSW Police responded to numerous complaints about the fruit shop between 4 and 21 July, for public health order breaches.

The owner of the store, after receiving several warnings, was issued a penalty infringement notice on 4 July for not wearing a fitted face-covering in retail business and not ensuring hospitality worker was wearing a fitted face mask.

Following further complaints from the community, police were again called to the store where they spoke to the owner and an employee who both refused to comply with the current health orders.

They were subsequently charged with not wearing a fitted face-covering in a retail business. Both men were granted conditional bail and appeared at Downing Centre Local Court on 19 July 2021.

On Wednesday 21 July 2021, officers attended the same store and observed there were no QR codes displayed or available for customers to use.

The owner of the store was arrested and taken to Mascot Police Station where he was charged with breaching the public health order.

He was granted conditional bail and will appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday 12 August 2021.

The business was closed for seven days from 27 July 2021.

Nine businesses in Bondi were also banned from selling takeaway liquor for seven days due to COVID public health order concerns.

The activity of selling cocktails to people to drink nearby or as they walked to the next ‘bar’ in the Bondi Beach area was encouraging the community to breach public health orders and had to stop, said SafeWork NSW’s director WHS metro compliance, Dimitri Argeres,

“We’ve taken this action in response to concerns raised by the police and the community about drinks such as margarita cocktails in disposable cups being sold in multiple bars along Bondi Beach,” Argeres said.

“While it is understandable hospitality businesses are trying to maximise business during these hard times, this activity doesn’t pass the pub test as it results in patron crowding, congestion and a lack of social distancing.

“As we respond to the pandemic, businesses must be aware of the effect their goods and services have on the community and on the public health orders.”

The direction, under section 75 of the Liquor Act, was issued to Bondi Rumba, Bondi Tony’s Burger Joint, TAQIZA, Italo House, Speakeasy, Neighbourhood, Bondi Liquor Co, Fonda Mexican and North Bondi Fish, prohibiting takeaway sales of liquor directly from the venue, excluding home delivery, for seven days from 30 July 2021.

A failure to comply with the direction carries a penalty of up to $11,000.

The moves come after the NSW government recently said inspectors will be checking businesses are doing their part to protect the community by wearing masks and enforcing the QR code check-in.