Punters are being urged to head to pubs and clubs early and avoid long queues as Queensland police crack down on those failing to adhere to social distancing directions.
The message has come off the back of a new direction by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer that patrons can no longer stand at venues unless ordering at the bar.
Police said patron behaviour has been concerning, with many people flouting social distancing rules while waiting in queues outside venues on busy weekends.
Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said some venues also hadn’t been compliant with COVID-19 guidelines.
“We continue to see some that aren’t getting it right — they can expect attention not only from police but also the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.
“The theme that concerned us last weekend was less about the operators, but about patron behaviour — that remains an issue for us.”
It comes after Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski issued a stern warning yesterday, urging Queenslanders to realise the pandemic was far from over.
He said further lockdowns were possible in Queensland if people failed to heed the warnings.
“You have the responsibility to do the right thing, remember your social distancing,” the Deputy Commissioner said.
“If people don’t get the message, of course we’ll look at whether enforcement action needs to be taken.”
‘No-snogging stick’ at the ready
Police conducted 181 inspections on venues last weekend but none resulted in any operators being fined.
Chief Superintendent Steve Dabinett said patrons would need to be patient, or take a different approach if heading out to venues.
“If the club is busy and you’re in a line, maybe go and find somewhere else … or get there early and get in.”
Venues like Retros in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley found novel ways to enforce the no-standing and social distancing guidelines, including a “no-snogging stick”.
Retros’ Luke Mellers said the measures were in place as “social distancing is here to stay”.
“We’ve got our social distancing stick here, we’ve also got our no-stranger-snogging stick.”
“Nobody likes being hit with the naughty stick, even though it’s soft, [and] we’ll certainly be using it to keep everyone apart.”
Venue operators have told the ABC they’ll do their best to force patrons to comply, with security and staff ensuring patrons are seated when not ordering drinks and remain socially distanced in queues.