Why Brisbane venues weren’t fined over the weekend
CLAIMS of double-standards have been exacerbated after photos revealed mass violations of social distancing measures throughout Brisbane night-life over the weekend, just two weeks after police left struggling outback pubs reeling from $20,000 of COVID-19 fines.
Licensed venues in a city that contained 400 active COVID-19 cases earlier this year have been caught out blatantly disregarding social distancing measures, meanwhile pubs in the southwest, a region that has never had a recorded case of coronavirus, face the brunt of fines in Queensland so far.
Photos emerged during the weekend, showing thousands of punters packing out Fortitude Valley venues and forcing hundreds to queue in long lines outside.
Despite the massive crowds, a spokesman from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) said no Brisbane venues received a COVID-19 infringement notice for last weekend's scenes.
At this stage, OLGR have only issued two infringement notices to venues for the weekend of July 3 and 4.
"In the past week, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation issued two infringement notices to venues who were operating dancefloors, despite clear advice that this was not permitted under Stage Three," the spokesman said.
"CCTV footage from two nightclubs in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley for the weekend of July 3-4, clearly showed patrons dancing on what is normally the venue's dancefloor.
"Insufficient action was taken by security or venue management to stop it and subsequently both licensees received a $6,670 fine.
"The licensee of a Gold Coast bar was also fined $6,670 on the same weekend for failing to keep required contact information about patrons for contact tracing purposes, despite receiving multiple warnings."
Despite being unwilling to comment on outback pubs being fined at the time, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk chimed in to say she was "disappointed" to learn partygoers were continuing to dance in Brisbane nightclubs.
Yet police officers conducted a COVID-19 blitz across the southwest and immediately issued $6672 fines to The Commonwealth and Royal on Ninety-Nine in Roma, the Federal Hotel in Wallumbilla and the Injune Hotel for failing to comply with Public Health Directions in late June.
Publicans of the Royal on Ninety-Nine and the Federal Hotel stated the officers came in one day, then issued the fine the following day. There was no three week wait before the fine was imposed.
The OLGR spokesman said compliance officers are currently investigating matters identified in venues during the first weekend of Stage Three and the weekend just passed.
"These relate to failing to keep patrons' contact information, exceeding patron numbers and allowing dancing at venues," the spokesman said.
"It is possible further infringement notices will be issued this week."