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Border Inn makes most of NSW restrictions

By Anna McGuinness

WITH NSW's hospitality industry off to a flying start, Victoria’s eateries are only now opening their doors to dining in for the first time in months.

From today, establishments in Victoria can offer dining-in with up to 20 patrons per enclosed space, while in NSW up to 50 customers are allowed on the premises at once.

For staff at the Border Inn Hotel in Moama the easing of restrictions was a huge relief.

“We’re really excited some of our staff can return and get back to a little bit more money,” Border Inn Hotel licensee Adrian Daly said.

From lunchtime today, the bar and restaurant will be open for up to 50 people each, serving lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Border Inn Hotel manager Mick Curtin in the dining area which has been specifically designed to adhere to the new physical distancing laws as COVID-19 isolation restrictions ease. Photo: Cath Grey

Venues are permitted one person for every four square metres, so different rules will apply based on the size of dining areas, and customer numbers will be strictly monitored.

“We only had confirmation of the AHA (Australian Hotels Association) policy on Thursday night so it’s only just been confirmed that we can reopen and in what capacity,” Adrian said.

“There’s been a lot to organise with signage, sanitising and figuring out how to book people in.

“It’s pretty strict, we had to submit our floor plans and there’s big fines if the rules aren’t followed. We will be very conservative,” he said.

For their reopening a hygiene marshal will be in place to monitor the following of the guidelines and ensure strict compliance with the rules. Tables will be set apart to keep in line with 1.5 m social distancing, and bookings will be required.

While NSW restrictions permitted opening for 10 patrons earlier this month, the Border Inn Hotel held off.

“It was a financial decision, 10 customers doesn’t justify paying our fixed costs such as electricity and wages,” Adrian said.

“Fifty people probably still won’t do it, but we need to get back and pay our staff and we’re excited for that.”

During the lock-down period the hotel offered takeaway and kept its bottle shop open.

“We haven’t decided whether to continue with takeaway but we really appreciate the local support during the lock-down,” Adrian said.

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