Wollongong's small bars and restaurants have been thrown a lifeline by the NSW Government, which announced on Tuesday that they would be able to sell alcohol for home delivery or take-away.
In new regulatory advice which came into effect on Tuesday, the NSW liquor agency will take relaxed enforcement approach for venues without a permit for takeaway alcohol.
Lachlan Stevens, from His Boy Elroy, spent the weekend lobbying local MP Paul Scully for a law change to make alcohol deliveries possible. He said he was happy to see his voice had been heard, and hoped this new approach could make a small difference to hospitality businesses as they try to survive the shut down.
"You're operating with a small margin because you're competing with people who can sell in bulk, but we're a community centred business and local really matters for us, so we'll be using this as a way to support other local businesses," he said.
For instance, he said the burger bar would be selling locally made beers, from Five Barrels Brewery.
"You might be paying a bit extra than at somewhere like Dan Murphy's but that means the world to local businesses and it's a way people can support the community," he said. "I think we'll be sticking with beer and wine, if that's what allowed, but we're also open to exploring cocktail ideas. But we also want to let other business to share the market as well and I hope the guys at Howlin' Wolf will be able to take advantage of this too."
Ben Abraham, part the Good Times Only group which operates small bars Howlin' Wolf, Births and Deaths, Dagwood and Little Prince, welcomed the rule relaxation but said he was still unsure exactly how it would work.
"There's some uncertainty around what they are saying, so we are waiting for some clarification around what we're going to do and what types of products we'll be able to do," he said,
"If it's take away like a bottleshop, so you can only sell sealed bottles of wine, beer or spirits it won't really help us. But if they let us sell cocktails that we can bottle ourselves that would be really interested."
For Andy Burns, chef at Babyface Kitchen, the relaxed rules mean he will be able to sell his wine stock as he shifts from being an eat-in only venue to take-away.
Announcing the changes, NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said he wanted to make life easier for hospitality businesses during a "difficult and unprecedented" time.
"We have implemented a statement of regulatory intent that will allow small bars, restaurants and cafes to offer takeaway or home delivery of liquor and food," he said. "This will provide businesses and customers with more choice and convenience during this challenging time."
The new regulations say the licensed premises making take-away sales or undertaking home deliveries should have a system of controls in place to ensure that liquor is not sold to minors or to intoxicated persons.
"Liquor & Gaming NSW will generally take a supportive and educative approach to compliance with these requirements during this time except in cases of significant risks to patrons or the community, and will also take into consideration genuine attempts to comply with licence conditions and other requirements," the statement of regulatory intent says.
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