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Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for liquor and gaming licensees

Because of the current effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Queensland, we want to help liquor and gaming licensees understand their requirements for operating licensed venues.

As a licensee, you have a legislative responsibility to provide a safe environment for patrons and staff and a social responsibility to mitigate the risks of the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for the steps you have taken to ensure this.

Economic relief package

The Queensland Government has announced a $4B COVID-19 economic relief package to support Queensland's health, jobs and businesses.

The package includes waiving 2020–21 liquor licencing fees, payroll tax relief, funds for re-training and job-matching, and providing a $500 rebate on electricity bills.

Licensees will not be eligible for a pro-rata refund of their 2019–20 liquor licence fees.

Tax relief for pubs and clubs

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice announced $50 million extra tax relief for Queensland pubs and clubs who are affected by the new measures introduced in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency.

Business closures

The National Cabinet agreed to implement new rules for places where Australians gather to stop the spread of COVID-19.

From 12pm, Monday 23 March 2020, the following types of businesses will be closed for normal operations unless they are permitted to provide a takeaway or delivery service:

  • all liquor licensees including clubs, hotels and bars (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), function venues and hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • cinemas, gambling venues (including casinos and TABs within licensed premises), nightclubs, theatres, golf and bowls clubs (except for sporting activities and to offer takeaway alcohol and food sales for home consumption), and entertainment venues of any kind
  • restaurants, cafes, fast-food outlets and food courts (though takeaways, home deliveries or room service may still be offered).

Members, guests and reciprocal members may purchase alcohol for home consumption where the venue is operating a takeaway service.

These businesses are considered non-essential as stated in the Queensland Chief Health Officer's announcement.

We understand the significant effect this will have on the hotel, club and hospitality industries and we will continue to work closely with industry representatives to support Queensland licensees.

Continued operation of sporting clubs

While sporting clubs that hold liquor licensees can no longer serve alcohol for onsite consumption, the club's sporting activities are still permitted, provided social distancing requirements are met.

Golf clubs

Golf clubs are open to patrons for play on the course, but the venue is not permitted to sell alcohol or food for on-premises consumption. Golf clubs must follow these requirements:

  • The club house and external food and drink areas are to remain closed.
  • While you are permitted to sell alcohol for home consumption, it cannot be consumed on-premises, including courses and greens that form part of licensed premises.
  • Social distancing needs to be maintained while playing, which is currently limited to groups of 2.

Lawn bowls clubs

The Chief Health Officer (CHO) advises that people can play lawn bowls, since it's considered physical exercise, but only:

  • on their own
  • with a family group who live in the same house
  • with no more than 1 other person who they don't ordinarily live with.

This also applies to other outdoor sporting-based activities.

The CHO recommendation remains that players over 60 should remain at home.

Social distancing

Queensland's CHO, Dr Jeannette Young, is promoting the importance of social distancing.

The most common issue our compliance officers are noting is that licensees, their staff and contractors are not adhering to social distancing laws when supplying takeaway services.

If you want to continue to provide these services, you must ensure:

  • social distancing, including keeping 1.5 metres between people, is enforced and monitored by employees and contractors
  • the number of people gathering in store or outside to order or collect takeaways does not exceed 1 person per 4 square metres
  • you do not promote or allow people to consume food or drink on, or adjacent to, your premises. This includes patrons consuming a beverage while waiting for their takeaway order.

Get in-venue signage for social distancing rules at your premises.

The following are practices that could help with social distancing:

  • provide markings on the floor that are 1.5 metres apart so customers know where they are required to stand when lining up to order
  • place a sign on your door that clearly outlines how many customers can be inside your premises at one time
  • only accept card or electronic payments
  • remove external tables and chairs, where possible
  • provide any takeaway drinks at the same time as food to avoid them being consumed while people wait for their food order.

Read the CHO's directive on gatherings to learn more.

Gaming licensees

With licensed venues closing at 12pm, Monday 23 March 2020, gaming licensees should not turn off electronic gaming machines via the internal switch or at the wall.

Gaming machines must stay on and your licensed monitoring operator (LMO) will disable your machines as soon as practical after closures are in effect. Ensure all gaming machine play has ceased.

We suggest you conduct a cash clearance and do your normal end-of-month data entry and regulatory reporting.

If you have any questions, contact your LMO.

Risks from powering off EGMs

You may have concerns about the costs of keeping your EGMs switched on, but you should know the risks of the alternative.

EGMs are designed to be powered on and if you turn them off, there is a risk of inadvertent failures to parts or the system of the machine – this increases the longer they are shutdown. While this may not be significant, each gaming machine may be affected differently.

After consulting with your LMO, if you choose to power off EGMs, you will be responsible for resolving any failures that may occur when the EGMs are brought back online.

Liquor sales for off-premises consumption

Normally, you are not permitted to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption (e.g. from attached or detached bottle shops) if you are not selling alcohol for on-premises consumption at the main premises.

When you have closed your main premises, you can continue to operate your attached and detached bottle shops. This only applies to licensees with the authority for takeaway sales. Currently, applications to extend trading hours for bottle shops are not being considered.

Get in-venue signage for takeaway alcohol sales at your premises.

Learn about the trading hours for Good Friday and Anzac Day.

Holders of restricted liquor permits can no longer operate and are not authorised to sell takeaway alcohol.

Bottle shops must still operate in compliance with the Liquor Act 1992 and any other government requirements. All licensed premises should have a system of control in place to ensure the responsible service of alcohol and that sales are not made to minors or intoxicated persons.

OLGR compliance officers are working closely with the Queensland Police Service on the frontline, ensuring venues comply with their requirements and who will take enforcement action as required.

Where businesses do not comply with current rules, or are found to be non-compliant on a follow-up visit, compliance officers will use their powers to enforce the public health directions.

On-the-spot fines of $1,334.50 for individuals and $6,672.50 for corporations could apply. The maximum penalty for failing to comply with a CHO direction is $13,345.

There is no restriction in the Liquor Act for advertising for takeaway alcohol or alcohol ordered online or by phone. But you cannot use unacceptable practices or promotions that encourage irresponsible consumption.

Community other licences and restricted liquor permits

From 3 April 2020, clubs who hold a community other licence, or a restricted liquor permit (excluding those in an area subject to an alcohol management plan), can sell any leftover stock from when they were instructed to close because of COVID-19 as takeaway liquor.

You can only sell takeaway liquor to your members, staff and reciprocal members.

How you can currently trade

The following table explains under what conditions you can sell takeaway liquor for home consumption, based on the type of licence you hold.

Licence type

Conditions (what you can do)

Commercial hotel licence

Provide takeaway food and alcohol and operate takeaway liquor sale areas that are detached from the licensed venue, or within or attached to the licensed venue

Takeaway food and alcohol cannot be consumed inside or adjacent to the venue (i.e. not within a food court, the dining area of a food outlet or outside dining areas attached to the venue).

Community club licence

Provide takeaway food and alcohol and operate takeaway liquor sale areas that are within the licensed venue

Sales must be limited to members, staff and reciprocal members.

Takeaway food and alcohol cannot be consumed inside or adjacent to the venue (i.e. not within a food court, the dining area of a food outlet or outside dining areas attached to the venue).

Subsidiary on-premises licence (café)

Provide takeaway food and alcohol

Takeaway alcohol can only consist of packaged beer (bottled or canned), wine, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, such as premixed spirits. A maximum of 2.25 litres of liquor (total volume) can only be sold per transaction

Subsidiary on-premises licence (restaurant)

Provide takeaway alcohol together with a takeaway food order

Takeaway alcohol can only consist of packaged beer (bottled or canned), wine, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, such as premixed spirits. A maximum of 2.25 litres of liquor (total volume) can only be sold per transaction

Commercial other - bar

Provide takeaway alcohol

Takeaway alcohol can only consist of packaged beer (bottled or canned), wine, distilled spirits, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, such as premixed spirits. A maximum of 2.25 litres of liquor (total volume) can only be sold per transaction including a 750ml limit on distilled spirits within the total volume of any transaction.

Subsidiary off-premises licence (producer/wholesaler)

If you are a craft brewer or artisanal distiller, you can sell takeaway liquor produced on your licensed premises provided you are either:

  • a   craft brewer who produces between 2,500 litres and 5 million litres of   product per year
  • an   artisanal distiller who produces between 400 litres and 450,000 litres of   product per year.

You can also sell your own products in person, by phone or online for home delivery, as long as you meet these production requirements.

If you also hold a brewery licence under the Excise Act 1901 (Cwlth) you can do takeaway sales of your own product without having to meet the above production volumes.

Community other licence

Provide takeaway food and alcohol to members, staff and reciprocal members to allow for disposal of existing stock only

Takeaway alcohol can only consist of packaged beer (bottled or canned), wine, distilled spirits, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, such as premixed spirits.

A maximum of 2.25 litres of liquor (total volume) can only be sold per transaction including a 750ml limit of distilled spirits within the total volume of any transaction.

Restricted liquor permit (excluding those in an area subject to an alcohol management plan).

Provide takeaway food and alcohol to members, staff and reciprocal members to allow for disposal of existing stock only

Takeaway alcohol can only consist of packaged beer (bottled or canned), wine, distilled spirits, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, such as premixed spirits.

A maximum of 2.25 litres of liquor (total volume) can only be sold per transaction including a 750ml limit of distilled spirits within the total volume of any transaction.

Sales through third-party sites

Customers can't order alcohol through a third-party – only liquor licensees have the authority to sell or supply alcohol. All orders have to be made with you, but you can have a third-party deliver it.

Third-party drivers don't need to be responsible service of alcohol (RSA) certified, but still need to obey the laws regarding the supply of alcohol to minors or to a person showing signs of intoxication.

Refilling growlers, squealers or other containers

You cannot refill a customer's growler or squealer (BYO containers) as takeaway alcohol, but you may sell your own growlers or squealers much the same as pre-packaged alcohol.

A licensed venue classifies as a food business, so you are required to maintain safe food standards, such as cleaning and sanitising equipment to limit the transmission of infectious diseases and prevent food contamination.

Cleaning and sanitising BYO containers is more difficult than a standard beer glass, so it's possible a customer's container could be contaminated and pose a risk to your staff and business.

Staying up to date

We know these are challenging circumstances for you and your business, so you should stay up to date with coronavirus COVID-19 information from:

Log into the OLGR client portal to update your email address (and other details) to make sure you receive notifications from us.

You can otherwise subscribe for email notifications and follow us on social media.

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