ACT Policing has issued criminal infringements and a $5000 fine to two Canberra restaurants for breaching COVID-19 public health directions, despite Canberra not having recorded a new case of the virus for more than two months.
On 4 September, one restaurant had 53 patrons when the establishment had a maximum allowable capacity of 43 diners.
On 5 September, another restaurant had more than 49 patrons when the establishment had a maximum allowable capacity of 25 people.
The restaurants are the second and third to be fined after a Civic restaurant received a $5000 fine in July for breaching public health directions.
ACT Policing has been conducting compliance patrols with Access Canberra and ACT Health. Many businesses having been inspected several times in the past few months to ensure the safety and protection of staff and patrons.
Superintendent Stephen Turnbull from ACT Policing’s COVID-19 Taskforce said the majority of businesses were doing the right thing.
“We have generally found businesses are eager to work with us if there are any areas of concern and quickly take all the steps needed to ensure compliance with the health directions,” Superintendent Turnbull said.
“Businesses have their staff and patrons at front of mind because they’re aware the community expects they are doing all they can for their safety.
“The businesses that are doing the right thing deserve our thanks because this is a hard time for everyone.”
Including this week’s additional fines, ACT Policing has issued six criminal infringements on three businesses and three individuals, as well as 15 cautions and one arrest for breaches of COVID-19 public health directions.
“During inspections, our primary concern is the maximum capacity limit being adhered to,” Superintendent Turnbull said.
“The rules are in a place for a reason, and ACT Policing will continue to work with ACT Health and Access Canberra to ensure business compliance.
“We also encourage businesses and patrons to use the new Check-In CBR app which will help contact tracing obligations under the Public Health Directions.”
There have now been more than 85,000 negative tests for COVID-19 in the ACT, with between 200 and 700 tests each day over the past week.
The next checkpoint for the ACT will be on 17 September.
Earlier this week a spokesperson for Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it was “very unlikely that the current situation will change for quite some time”.
Canberra’s chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said this should not stop the community from enjoying the warmer weather and longer days.
“We can continue eating out at restaurants and getting together with friends, as long as we keep practising good physical distancing,” Dr Coleman said.
“We can continue to gather with family and friends at a local park or by the lake, or head out on a hike through our nature reserves, as long as we maintain physical distancing between other groups of people who are enjoying the same space.
“By ensuring different groups remain at least 1.5 metres from other tables or groups, we reduce the chance of people who don’t normally spend time together mingling.
“It is important we maintain these measures to keep the ACT remains in a strong position to respond quickly if needed,” Dr Coleman said.
For all general enquiries, including to make a report of non-compliance, contact the COVID-19 Helpline on 6207 7244 (8:00 am -8:00 pm, seven days a week) or online.