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Sydney pub hit with $5,500 fine after huge queue breached COVID-19 rules

A pub in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has been hit with a $5,500 fine after hundreds of people were photographed waiting outside in breach of coronavirus rules.

The NSW liquor and gaming watchdog said photos of around 250 customers in front of the Golden Sheaf Hotel on Wednesday night were sent to police, which led them to investigate.

“The situation on Wednesday night posed a serious risk to public health,” a spokesman for Liquor & Gaming NSW said.

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“We need to send a clear message to this business and others that if you are not doing the right thing you will be held to account and we will escalate our enforcement actions for those who put the public at risk.”

“We want businesses to stay open and continue to trade and while we all need to accept that operating a business is a different prospect now, in all circumstances it must be conducted responsibly to protect the public from the risk of COVID-19 infections.”

This was the third time Liquor & Gaming NSW had inspected the venue during the pandemic.

Justine Baker, the chief executive of the Solotel Group that runs the pub, said they worked immediately with police to fix the problem.

“We take the safety of our guests and staff very seriously, which is why we will now be taking bookings only on Wednesday nights from 8pm and we will be employing extra staff and security to ensure social distancing is adhered to and we have a maximum of 20 people in our queues at any one time,” she said in a statement.

Two recent COVID-19 cases have been linked to another pub in southwest Sydney, with the venue temporarily closed and authorities searching for a third person who could have spread the infection.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday said a man in his 50s had been at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula on 3 July, the same night as an earlier case.

“Now, obviously, that has major ramifications because that appears to be … a likely point of connection where the two people could have actually come into some contact at least with the virus,” Mr Hazzard said.

Anyone who attended Crossroads Hotel last Friday is now being asked to self-isolate and come forward for testing immediately if they develop even the mildest of symptoms.

Meanwhile, Mr Hazzard said dozens of people who were tested in the Balmain and Rozelle area have been asked to get retested after 77 swabs were “misplaced in the system”.

He said he had asked NSW Pathology to look at what system issues might have caused the error.

NSW recorded 13 other COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Thursday, all in hotel quarantine, from more than 18,500 tests.

More than one million COVID-19 tests have been carried out in NSW since testing began.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Residents in Melbourne public housing towers who need access to support and assistance should call the Housing Call Centre on 1800 961 054. If you need a translator, first call 131 450. Both services are 24/7. More information can be found here.

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