Australia’s largest city of Sydney took a step back on its path out of COVID-19 on Friday, reintroducing restrictions on hospitality venues in the hopes of avoiding a second wave of infections.
Venues, including restaurants, cafes and bars were required to limit group bookings to 10 people, keep a digital record of their patron’s details, and sign up for the government’s COVID-Safe scheme to assist with contact tracing should an outbreak occur.
Behaviors deemed “high-risk”, including dancing and singing in groups, were prohibited.
Hospitality venues have been the focus for Sydney’s latest crackdown due to a number of cluster outbreaks occurring at bars and restaurants, including 52 infections stemming from a restaurant, and 56 linked with a pub, both in the city’s western suburbs.
The measures follow a dramatic rise in cases for the neighboring state of Victoria, which on Friday recorded 300 new cases and six deaths, taking the national death toll to 139.
New South Wales state (NSW), of which Sydney is the capital, has seen a much smaller increase in the number of cases with seven new infections recorded on Friday.
Businesses in NSW that don’t adhere to the new guidance will face fines and potential closure, with NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello emphasizing the seriousness of the government’s approach.
“Any business found blatantly breaking the rules will have the book thrown at them. We won’t be listening to any excuses,” Dominello said.
“Businesses that aren’t serious about safety should not be in business. Those who disregard the restrictions should expect a visit from an inspector.”
Meanwhile, restrictions on weddings and corporate events remained the same, which capped at 150, while funerals and places of worship were limited to 100 people.
All venues were also limited to the rule of one person per four square meters.