Business owners across Sydney are urging patrons to comply with coronavirus social distancing to avoid another lockdown, which some say will result in them going bust.
It comes amid growing fears Sydney could follow Melbourne into tighter restrictions following several cases of infections in NSW being traced back to Victoria’s outbreak.
It also comes after a picture emerged on Thursday of hundreds of people queueing in close quarters to enter hotel The Golden Sheaf in Double Bay on Wednesday night.
Although NSW Police investigated and no fines were issued, the state’s liquor and gaming regulator is investigating the incident.
While NSW has no immediate plans to tighten social-distancing restrictions, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has flagged that is being reassessed daily as authorities searched for virus “seeding” from Melbourne in her state.
That prospect would likely spell the end for the LazyBones Lounge in Marrickville, its owner Craig Pietersen said.
The music haunt, known for its live jazz, is one of the few Sydney venues still offering live music and a paid gig for musicians during the pandemic.
Mr Pietersen said the venue had barely managed to stay open during the pandemic and, as a result, had celebrated a bittersweet seven-year anniversary last weekend.
“If we go back to restrictions we will definitely close, we wouldn’t be able to to afford the risk of opening again,” he said.
The executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Katherine O’Regan, said it would be devastating to return to previous restrictions.
“We’ve proven we can contain this virus, but we can’t let our guards down by not adhering to the health advice,” she said.
“Businesses have been made aware of what’s required of them and in order to maintain the current return to trading they have to double down following instructions from health departments.”
LazyBones has been booked out since re-opening four weeks ago and Mr Pietersen said it would be “extremely frustrating” if it and other establishments had to close their doors because of breaches caused by other businesses.
But he understood Sydneysiders were yearning for a return to normality and said, more than once, his staff had tapped the shoulder of someone breaking the rules by dancing.
“People do understand the moment you ask them to be careful,” he said.
“We try very hard to keep within the parameters of being safe and they’re respecting other people’s space.”
“But it’s very hard to expect people to behave in a bar with alcohol.”
Clinical epidemiologist Fiona Stanaway said it was up to all of us to follow social-distancing rules to help reduce the impact of any outbreak.
“There’s a lot of people out there – probably out of frustration and because restrictions have lifted – that feel they don’t really need to social distance or think about the specific activities they do,” Dr Stanaway said.
She said she’s personally witnessed Sydney establishments not adhering to those important rules.
“Those kind of behaviours that we’ve all learned – we can’t forget them,” she said.
“We need to keep doing them unfortunately, as annoying as they are.
“The government has a really important role, but everyone can make a difference by how they behave as well.”