11 October 2021

Queanbeyan tastes the first day of 'freedom'

| James Coleman
Start the conversation
Staff at pub

Staff at the Royal Hotel yesterday: takeaway and home delivery have kept the hotel staff working during lockdown. Photo: Royal Hotel Facebook.

It was the first time the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan had poured a beer in 58 days.

Monday, 11 October, marks the beginning of the end for the NSW lockdown as a measure of freedoms are restored to fully vaccinated citizens.

Owner of the Royal Hotel QBN Anthony McDonald says locals are very excited for somewhat of a return to business as usual.

“We opened at 10 am this morning. Trade is not all that busy at the moment, but we’ve got about 100 booked for lunch and dinner today, which is quite significant for a Monday.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing all morning. It’s very encouraging.”

Meanwhile, Anthony says the barber next door has had a constant line of customers by his door.

“I think he’ll be the busiest bloke in town all day.”

The state will open up completely come 1 December, but for now, those with evidence of having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are able to accommodate 10 fully vaccinated visitors in their home, as well as being able to visit pubs, gyms, retail shops, hairdressers, and a number of other venues again.

READ ALSO Brittany Higgins takes a stand to protect women in parliament alongside Julia Gillard

The unvaccinated, however, are effectively under the same stay-at-home rules as before.

The Royal Hotel has been offering takeaway and home delivery throughout the lockdown which Anthony says has enabled the team to stay together.

“You don’t make any money, but it means we’re still a little productive and, most importantly, keeping our team together.”

Canberrans are still only allowed across the border for essential reasons but must complete a NSW entry declaration form either on entry or within 24 hours.

Royal Hotel QBN

It has been 58 days since the last beer was poured at the Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan. Photo: Royal Hotel QBN.

Those in approved postcodes can also cross into the ACT for essential reasons, but upon return to NSW have to stay at home for 14 days regardless of vaccination status.

Police border patrols on the major access roads will remain in place until freer movement resumes when the ACT lockdown lifts at 12:00 am on Friday, 15 October.

Anthony says it’s hard to tell where their customers are coming from.

“We’re making sure customers are double-jabbed and QR-coded, but we’re not checking drivers licences or other forms of ID.

“We do need to see evidence of vaccination status,” he says. “So if they haven’t got it on their smartphone or have a hard copy of it, unfortunately, they can’t come in.”

Royal Hotel QBN patrons

Cheers from the Royal Hotel. Photo: Royal Hotel QBN.

To comply with privacy laws regarding medical information, the rules in NSW state that a prospective customer does not have to produce vaccination evidence to an occupier of a business; however, the occupier may refuse entry to you if you do not produce your vaccination evidence.

Anthony says it won’t truly be back to normal while the rules on masks and social distancing are in place.

“But it’s better than not being open.”

Owner of Riverbank of Queanbeyan Elaine Richter says her cafe has also been offering takeaway the whole way through the lockdown to those getting their fix of nature and exercise along the Queanbeyan River.

“It was nothing like our normal trade, but something is better than nothing,” she says.

“We’ve got a few bookings for today and everybody’s excited. All the regulars who haven’t been able to come for a while are coming to support us.”

She says they normally get quite a few customers from Canberra, but “not today”.

Asking to see evidence of someone’s vaccination is not something she likes doing, “but most are very open and they’ll show us as soon as they come in”.

“We haven’t had to actually ask anyone yet.”

She and the staff are just “very happy” to be back.

There will be a further loosening of restrictions from the Monday after NSW reaches 80 per cent full vaccination, expected to be 18 October. The state is currently sitting at 73.5 per cent.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.