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Pubs in NSW are allowed to open with strict conditions and a 10-patron limit. But some venues have opted to wait until more restrictions lift

Sharon Masige
  • Some pubs in New South Wales reopened over the weekend, with new guidance allowing a maximum of 10 people going into effect from Friday May 15.
  • For example, The Cat and Fiddle Hotel in Balmain reopened for diners from Friday, saying demand from regulars has been immense.
  • Some venues, like the Oxford Tavern in Petersham, opt for unique strategies like letting people rent out the entire pub – with unlimited beer and full control of the playlist.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

With New South Wales allowing pubs and clubs to reopen with up to 10 sit-in diners, some pubs have taken up the offer.

While the Norfolk Hotel in Redfern didn't immediately reopen its doors last Friday when the restrictions were lifted, the pub will open to diners from this Thursday.

Madeline Huett-Auld, Marketing Manager of The Norfolk Hotel told Business Insider Australia via Facebook, "After consulting with our chef we’ve decided to give it a trial to try and make the best out of a very complicated and hard situation."

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The Cat and Fiddle Hotel in Balmain, however opened once the restrictions were lifted, with Manager Chris Matthews saying it was an easy decision.

"It wasn't even a thought because of our set up," he said. "We're quite lucky with the setup of the hotel – we've got a restaurant here."

The hotel is opening with two sittings for dinner on Friday, at 6pm - 7.30pm and 7.30pm - 9pm. It has even more opening times during the weekend.

Matthews explained that the business is receiving the JobKeeper payment and has been doing a lot of takeaway and delivery as well.

"So to open up the restaurant even only for 10 people with different seating, it was very easy because we didn't really need any extra staff," he said. "And because we've got JobKeeper, that means our wages are covered so it's just extra income for us which is fantastic."

Matthews said the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has provided the business guidelines related to the coronavirus. He added that the restaurant is large enough so that it can have people spaced properly and there will be one waiter per table. Plus it will have hand sanitiser available.

"We're taking a lot of care and making sure all of [our] systems are in place to ensure there is no risk to anyone," he said.

And plenty of people were gearing up to dine at the Cat and Fiddle from the first moment.

"A lot of our locals are very keen to come back," Matthews said. "We're fully booked pretty much for the whole weekend."

Some pubs are allowing patrons to hire out the entire venue

The Oxford Tavern in Petersham initially didn't plan on reopening from Friday due to its venue model and the 10-person limit.

"We don’t have a dedicated 'restaurant' set up for allocated dine-in customers and beyond that a 10 person limit just wouldn’t work for our venue," Jenna Phillips, Licensee at The Oxford Tavern in Petersham, told Business Insider Australia via Facebook last week.

However, the Oxford Tavern has since launched a new offering, letting customers rent out the entire venue.

"The lonely gal has had a gutful of the long, quiet nights, and with the Stage 1 easing of restrictions, we can finally invite ten suitors over to live out the secret fantasy we've all had: to have an entire pub to yourself!" the Tavern said.

It includes unlimited tap beer, a main meal each, unlimited sides and full rein over the music playlist.

But not every pub is ready to reopen just yet

Hotel Mosman won't be reopening as it is using the opportunity to complete renovations. A spokesperson for the venue said for some larger pubs to reopen, it would be better if different areas had their own 10-person limit.

"There needs to be clear guidelines in place for pubs and clubs, most venues are larger than cafes and restaurants and have multiple areas. If you are allowed 10 people in different areas throughout the venue it could be viable," the spokesperson said.

"We will be looking to open possibly in stage 2 if we have finished renovations and there are clear guidelines."

And Hotel Mosman isn't the only pub yet to reopen, with several others posting on social media announcing they would not open until further restrictions were eased. This includes venues like the Ambarvale Hotel and The Friend In Hand Hotel Glebe.

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