The Market Jindabyne shop and cafe will reopen tomorrow (Saturday, 17 July) after being ordered to close for seven days for allegedly breaching COVID-19 safety regulations.
The two cafe owners, a 32-year-old woman and 33-year-old man, were arrested and charged on 30 June for allegedly not wearing fitted face coverings in a retail business.
Both were granted conditional bail.
In a statement issued by Service NSW, it’s alleged NSW Police made a total of four visits to the venue in Jindabyne between 29 June and 2 July, 2021.
During this time, police allege they identified four COVID-19 breaches relating to staff and patrons not wearing face coverings; no signal relating to wearing face coverings, nor any to patron capacity; a lack of QR code check-in facilities inside or outside of the premises; and failure to produce a COVID-19 sign-in register.
The owners have now been issued a total of $2000 in fines for Public Health Order breaches, and a Future Court Attendance Notice for breach of bail conditions. They are due to appear in Cooma Local Court on 5 August, 2021.
Police initially attended the business after receiving multiple reports of people not wearing masks via Crime Stoppers.
A post by the owners on The Market Jindabyne’s Facebook page claims the couple is innocent.
“We are not guilty of the allegations and have elected to voluntarily shut the doors of our cafe and retail business until these matters resolve,” it reads.
An online petition has been started “to help save [the] small family business”, pay rent on the premises, pay wages to staff, and contribute towards legal fees.
On the petition website, it’s claimed that both owners had medical exemptions meaning they are not obliged to wear a mask.
“They wanted scalps and a political point,” shop owner Sheridan Gill is quoted as saying. “Our business is in ruins, our beautiful food is going to rot, and we are missing the best trading weeks of the season. I don’t know how we will survive.”
The couple has engaged the services of legal firm Xenophon Davis for their defence. In a blog post on the legal firm’s website, partner Mark Davis said the pair is committed to complying with every NSW Government directive.
SafeWork NSW director WHS metro compliance, Dimitri Argeres, said it is disappointing the seriousness of the issue isn’t getting through to some businesses.
“A digital check-in process allows for effective contact tracing and is vital in the event a positive case visits the location,” he said.
“After finding more breaches on the fourth visit, it was clear the ongoing operation of the premises presented a clear and significant risk to public health, and it needed to be sent a strong message.
“Businesses need to be doing the right thing to keep their customers and the community safe.”
Today (Friday, 16 July) NSW recorded a total of 97 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with 29 of those having been infectious in the community.
Mask-wearing is currently mandatory in many settings across NSW for people who do not carry a medical exemption.
Sheridan Gill declined to comment after being approached by Region Media.