Australia

'Self-serve buffets and pandemics don't mix': restaurants fined for breaches

SafeWork NSW inspectors have fined 23 restaurants, hotels and clubs during a blitz on COVID-19 breaches, including a Korean BBQ restaurant in Sydney's Inner West.

Butchers Buffet in Strathfield copped a $5000 fine after inspectors visited last Friday and found patrons sharing food, cutlery and crockery at a buffet.

The Butchers Buffet Korean BBQ restaurant in Strathfield is among 23 new venues fined for breaching COVID restrictions.

The Butchers Buffet Korean BBQ restaurant in Strathfield is among 23 new venues fined for breaching COVID restrictions.Credit:SafeWork NSW

Inspectors observed patrons using the buffet without staff assistance, with diners sharing tongs, trays, plates, condiments and utensils on tables.

The restaurant did not have a safety marshal and there were no advertised limits on the number of patrons allowed inside at a time, SafeWork said.

Tables and chairs were not spaced sufficiently apart and CCTV footage showed a lack of physically distancing when diners helped themselves at the buffet.

SafeWork NSW health and safety director Sarina Wise said breaches were unacceptable.

A sample of the delicacies at the buffet.

A sample of the delicacies at the buffet. Credit:SafeWork NSW

"Self-serve buffets and pandemics simply don't mix, creating a source of potentially contaminated items," Ms Wise said.

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"Sharing items on a buffet is clearly a direct line for COVID transmission.

"No self-serve buffet style food service areas are allowed including communal bar snacks and communal condiments."

The Royal Hotel in Darlington was another to receive a $5000 fine, after footage showed insufficient spacing left between slot machines.

The NSW Liquor and Gaming department has previously warned venues could be temporarily shut down for breaching strict regulations.

A total of 23 venues were fined in the past week including the Albion Hotel and Crown Hotel in Parramatta, Ashfield Bowling Club, Zushi Barangaroo, Lotus Barangaroo, and Mohr Fish in St Ives.

All but two of the venues fined were in Sydney. The other two were the Thredbo Alpine Hotel and the La Famiglia restaurant in Jindabyne in the NSW Snowy Mountains region.

Authorities have so far issued NSW hospitality businesses 150 fines worth $658,000.

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