In response to a continual reduction in the number of new coronavirus cases, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has provided early relief to small businesses grappling with the economic impact of the crisis.
The state government has announced that effective 1 June 2020, it would allow pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants to host up to 50 customers, provided they adhere to the one person per four square metre rule and employ strict social distancing measures.
Ms Berejiklian said the move was designed to “safely bringing back thousands of jobs.”
“This decision has been made with expert health advice, and both businesses and patrons will be subject to strict rules and guidelines,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“All customers must be seated and no bookings of more than 10 allowed, in addition to many other conditions which must be met.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello have also been charged with facilitating the state economy transition to recovery, particularly upon the expiry of the Commonwealth government’s JobKeeper program.
“This is a game changer right now. As we continue to deal with the aftermath of the devastating bushfires, continued drought and COVID-19, it’s important for people to find a way to enjoy themselves and take a break from the daily pressures they are facing,” Mr Barilaro said.
“A morale boost and the additional economic stimulus provided by pubs and clubs is what our communities need and I look forward to enjoying a beer in the bush with locals very soon.”
Mr Perrottet added: “There are about 280,000 people employed in this sector of the economy, and allowing venues to safely cater for more customers will provide another boost to business and jobs.
“NSW is opening back up for business. And as we ease restrictions, everybody needs to follow the health and safety guidelines to ensure we make it a success and can continue.”
Mr Dominello said the government consulted with both the Australian Hotel Association and ClubsNSW before delivering its plan.
“This has been really considered and thought out to make sure we have the best regulatory settings in place,” Mr Dominello said.
This announcement comes less than a week after the latest Labour Force data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 594,300 workers lost their jobs in April, triggering a spike in the unemployment rate from 5.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent.
The deterioration in labour market conditions prompted a number of lenders to lower their risk appetites for new lending in anticipation of a spike in loan defaults.
Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of Australia revealed that the unemployment rate could hit 10 per cent by the end of the June quarter before recovering to 7 per cent by the end of the year.