Figtree Hotel managers have acknowledged they made a "mistake" and have vowed to more strictly enforce COVID-19 restrictions after an unfortunate incident led to a $5000 fine last weekend.
Wollongong and Lake Illawarra police conducted high-visibility operations on Saturday to ensure venues including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes, were following the new restrictions.
Figtree Hotel was fined after police saw a large number of patrons from a sporting team standing together and drinking in groups.
Police allege the venue manager did not properly enforce the COVID-19 safety plan.
Licencee Andrew McWhirter said hotel management had clearly defined COVID protocols and a safety management plan that had been in place since reopening and would be more strictly adhered to going forward.
"This has been working well and whilst all other protocols were being followed at this time of the breach, including capacity and booking limits, taking contact details and keeping good social distancing, we failed to adequately stop a group of customers standing and moving around the venue, when they should have been seated," he said.
"My team did ask the group to be seated but unfortunately, they did continue to stand, and we didn't do enough to stop this.
"Whilst it is difficult, the communication and management of these changing conditions is our responsibility and we will do more to improve customers understanding of what's expected.
"Myself and the team here are obviously very disappointed, however I am proud of the job they have been doing to date and know that we will all take this for the opportunity it is to get better and ensure we keep striving to provide a great place for the community to enjoy safely."
Mr McWhirter said managers would work and communicate with patrons so the venue could remain open and a place where people could connect with friends and family.
He said the safety of the local community was "paramount" and the team would continue to work within the government guidelines.
"The operating conditions are difficult, sometimes requiring interpretation and are changing rapidly, however we are thankful to be open, have our staff in work and a place for our community to continue to reconnect safely," he said.
"We are looking at this incident as an opportunity to further improve what we are doing and as an opportunity for us, the community and other operators to learn from our mistake and better understand what is expected of all of us to ensure we can continue to manage through this crisis effectively."
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