Gold Coast venues targeted by police over COVID-19 rules

 

UPDATE: GOLD Coast bars and nightclubs will be targeted by police this weekend to ensure patrons and venue operators are complying with COVID-19 rules.

Three Queensland nightclubs were issued with penalty infringement notices last weekend and a further four were put on notice, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

Mr Gollschewski said police would crack down if venues and patrons were blatantly and knowingly flouting the law.

"It's really disappointing when we see members of our community lining up in big lines waiting to get into a nightclub and not thinking it's a problem," Mr Gollschewski said.

An operator of four Gold Coast nightclubs welcomed the crackdown, saying venues that breached the rules were frustrating those doing the right thing.

Sin City, The Bedroom, Havana and White Rhino co-owner Matt Keegan said a police presence would ensure there was a "level playing field" for all operators.

"Safety comes first and we try to deliver as good as service as possible within the framework we've got," Mr Keegan said.

"We have been open between multiple venues for months and have never had any issues."

Victoria recorded 428 new coronavirus cases on Friday - that state's highest single-day total - and a further three deaths.

There were no new cases in Queensland on Friday, with its total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began staying at 1071. NSW recorded 13 new cases on Friday.

Gold Coast Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler yesterday urged travellers wanting to enter Queensland to save themselves time by displaying the latest border declaration pass.

Supt Wheeler said the new pass had a larger expiry date which allowed police to quickly determine if the car could continue into Queensland or be pulled aside for questioning.

"If we can save even five seconds per vehicle, and looking at it very conservatively, if we processed 20,000 vehicles, that'll equate to almost 30 hours of saved time across our system," Supt Wheeler said.

By Friday afternoon traffic was crawling on the M1 from the Kennedy Dr exit to the border checkpoint, taking drivers up to 25 minutes to travel two kilometres.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared controversy over the NSW-Queensland border crossing "a matter for Queensland".

Speaking to media during his first visit to the Gold Coast since the border opened, Mr Morrison said while NSW and Victoria had worked together on border policing, Queensland had made its own decisions.

"The difference here is NSW and Victoria worked quite closely together on what was done (at the border)," he said.

"Queensland made its own unilateral decision on the borders so really how it manages that is a matter for the Queensland Government."

Scott Morrison has cancelled the next Federal parliament sitting. Andrew Taylor/ NCA NewsWire
Scott Morrison has cancelled the next Federal parliament sitting. Andrew Taylor/ NCA NewsWire

Asked whether he would support the border being moved back 7km into NSW, Mr Morrison said: "Queensland have made their own decision, so it's an issue and a problem for Queensland to sort out."

Debate continues after Mayor Tom Tate this week called for a referendum to be held in tandem with the October state election on moving the border south to the Tweed River.

Tweed businesses are divided over the issue.

Nicole James, golf development manager at Tweed Heads-Coolangatta Golf Club which has most of its members in Queensland, said the existing border presented "some challenges'' but should probably be left as is.

"We're a border club so we've got a foot in each state," she said.

"Would it be easier for us if the border was moved south? Maybe, but there are still members who would live south of the new border anyway.

"There's always some challenges, whether it's daylight savings or whatever. It keeps us on our toes."

The Tweed Heads Bowls Club has a first-hand view of the border checkpoint congestion.

General manager Gerard Robinson said it would "make more sense'' for the border to be moved south to the natural boundary of the Tweed River, although that would not be easy.That would place the club firmly in Queensland territory, but Mr Robinson said that would not sway his State of Origin allegiance.

"I'm born and bred in Victoria," he said.

"I wouldn't have any issue being a Queenslander."

 

EARLIER: AN operator of multiple Gold Coast nightclubs says if patron restrictions inside were eased venues could better control queues outside.

There are fears nightclubs could be forced to close again just after being allowed to reopen due to alarm at crammed patron lines outside venues. A number of Brisbane nightclubs in Fortitude Valley were spotted flouting social distancing rules at the weekend, with health officials saying they were playing "Russian roulette" with their families' lives. Clubs on the Gold Coast also had queues.

Big lines at a popular Brisbane night club on Friday night. Picture: John Gass.
Big lines at a popular Brisbane night club on Friday night. Picture: John Gass.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there would be "consequences" if coronavirus rules such as social distancing weren't followed.

But Hallmark Group, which own Surfers Paradise clubs Retros and Asylum, said it would be the "worst case scenario" if they were forced to close again.

Marketing boss Tammy Wood said if patron limits of one person per four square metres for venues above 200 square metres were eased to one patron per two sq metres it would help.

Nightclub Tane have revealed last week they will be opening at the end of the month in Surfers Paradise after six months of anticipation. Picture Glenn Hampson
Nightclub Tane have revealed last week they will be opening at the end of the month in Surfers Paradise after six months of anticipation. Picture Glenn Hampson


"We have eager partygoers who want to come in (but) us being restricted to small numbers, outside the venue is a lot harder to manage," she said.

"We've had signs up outside as well and we are managing the best we can.

"The worst part is when people have lined up for so long and are then being turned away because we are at those lower capacity numbers.

Asylum nightclub. Picture: Jerad Williams
Asylum nightclub. Picture: Jerad Williams

"If restrictions could ease to one (person) per 2sqm, we could manage that a whole lot easier inside our venues, rather than being packed (outside).

"We're very strict about abiding by the rules and safety measures and we have everything in place."

 

FRESH RESTRICTIONS TO BE PLACED ON NSW PUBS

 

 

Retros is trading with a limit of 100 and Asylum is at 130.

When clubs reopened, she admitted it was hard to get people to follow rules but last weekend everyone was understanding: "With the no dance rule, you have to give a few reminders before having to say 'sorry guys, you have to leave now'. But that was mostly (happening) the first weekend."

Originally published as Coast clubs plead for change to avoid 'worst case scenario'


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