VIDEO: Hotel fined for pub baron's son birthday lunch breach
A birthday lunch for pub baron Craig Laundy's 22-year-old son at one of the family's hotels has resulted in fines totalling $10,000 for COVID breaches.
Liquor and Gaming NSW issued The Red Lion Hotel in Rozelle with two $5000 fines on Friday following an investigation into the August 2 celebrations for Charlie Laundy, held on the upstairs balcony.
Inspectors began their investigation after receiving an anonymous complaint. It is understood the booking had been for four groups of 10 people, but the complaint alleged the 40 guests were mingling and drinking in breach of Public Health Orders.
When police attended, all patrons were seated as required under the latest COVID rules. However, after later obtaining CCTV footage, Liquor & Gaming inspectors observed the guests had been moving between tables, mingling, standing while drinking and "greeting each other warmly with hugs and handshakes".
Department compliance director Dimitri Argeres said the venue was skirting the rules by splitting the booking, which was clearly for 40 people who knew each other and were not adhering to physical distancing.
"It's these sorts of social get-togethers that can spark a cluster," he said.
"When it comes to events like birthday parties and weddings, we've seen how quickly people are tempted to forget the rules and throw caution to the wind.
"We expect hoteliers to set exemplary standards, particularly when it comes to managing the heightened risk presented by groups mingling."
When inspectors attended on August 15, Liquor & Gaming claims other problems were uncovered, including an "out of date safety plan" and "inadequately spaced chairs and tables".
Mr Laundy, whose sister Danielle owns the pub, said the fact his son's lunch triggered a fine showed how difficult it was for publicans to enforce the rules. But he said he would cop it "on the chin".
"I don't care what the surname of anyone at any one of my venues is; everyone is treated the same if they break the rules and we get fined as a result. We cop it on the chin," Mr Laundy (inset, left) said.
"This demonstrates how hard it is to get people to sit down and stay at their table."
He said police had walked through the venue twice on that afternoon and had given it the all clear.
There have now been 68 fines totalling $304,000 issued to NSW hospitality premises. The Lewisham Hotel was also fined $5000 on Friday for breaches.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said: "If businesses decide to fall asleep during the pandemic we will prod them awake with a $5000 fine. If they continue to breach, then we will shut them down."
Originally published as Hotel fined for Laundy son birthday lunch breach