Understanding the current covid-19 restrictions

More than a year has passed since our industry was thrown on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past 12 months, we have become well-versed in the short- term ‘shutdowns’ and abrupt tightening of restrictions in response to localised outbreaks.

During that time Clubs Queensland has been meeting regularly with Queensland Health, the Chief Health Officer and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation in relation to the status of COVID-19 restrictions.

During these meetings, Clubs Queensland had advocated for the easing of multiple restrictions, including those around sign in requirements, dancing, occupant density and buffet self-service.

Clubs Queensland has also worked closely with the Queensland Government on the proposed revision of the Industry COVID-Safe Plan.

With the success of Clubs Queensland’s advocacy efforts and the short-term localised shut downs, we are thankful that the Queensland Government is easing restrictions around the state to allow improved trading conditions for Clubs.

What follows is a brief overview of the major changes to the Chief Health Officer’s Public Health Directions that we have seen over April and May, 2021, valid as at 1 May 2021. Many of these small changes should significantly benefit clubs’ trading conditions.

The Check In Queensland App
From 1 May 2021, all Clubs have been required to use the Check In Queensland App when signing patrons into the premises.

For the duration that a Public Health Direction requires clubs to collect contact tracing information, Clubs are not required to collect and maintain visitor or guest details for the purposes of complying with the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld).

What if the patron does not have the Check In Queensland App?
The Check In Queensland App offers the ability for businesses to enter customer contact details via ‘Check In Queensland Business Profile’ mode listed in the profile section of the App. If a person is unable to use the Check In Queensland App due to age, disability or language barriers, or does not own a smart phone, then the Club
must register the patron through the business profile mode of the App.

Contact information is not required to be collected for takeaway.

Occupant density
One area that has seen a considerable easing of restrictions is occupant density.

The maximum number of patrons allowed in a venue without ticketed and allocated seating at any one time is determined by the two square metre rule. That is, one person per two square metres of accessible space in the venue.

However, the number of persons permitted in the venue can increase to 100 per cent of the venue’s seated capacity where patrons are in ticketed and allocated seating.

Ticketed and allocated seating means fixed seating where the patron is given a record of their assigned seat by way of a ticket and remains in the assigned seat to the extent possible while they are at the venue or event.

There is no limit on occupant density in an outdoor space, provided the venue does not exceed the number of occupants permitted under regulations or legislation applying to the venue such as fire safety, planning approvals or work health and safety regulations.

Buffet Self Service
Self-service buffets are still not allowed at Clubs. Clubs can choose to have buffets served by employees of the club.

Clubs are now allowed to serve share plates to social or family groups seated at a table. Share plates are not permitted between strangers.
Dancing is now allowed in clubs, subject to occupant density requirements. Clubs can operate a dance floor provided that there is no more than one person per two square metres on the dance floor.

Clubs must also ensure that there are measures in place to encourage and facilitate the distribution of patrons on the dance floor. This includes providing signage to remind patrons of physical distancing, asking staff to encourage patrons to physically distance and using tables or other fixtures to encourage the distribution of people on a dance floor.

Inconsistencies between the Public Health Directions and COVID Safe Plan
As many clubs will be aware, the Industry COVID Safe Plan has not been updated in some time. As a result, many of the newer Public Health Directions made by the Chief Health Officer are inconsistent with the Industry COVID Safe Plan.

Clubs should be aware that the Chief Health Officers most recent Public Health Direction prevails over the Industry COVID Safe Plan to the extent of any inconsistency. This means that where a rule in a Public Health Direction is different to a rule in the Industry COVID Safe Plan, Clubs should follow the rule in the Public Health Direction.

Please note that this article is current as of 1 May 2021. For the most up to date advice, please contact Clubs Queensland’s Workplace Relations and Compliance team.