Grand Final punters cost footy team $10k for COVID breaches
Football fans "mingling, hugging and drinking" during the Grand Final clash between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm last weekend have cost their club $10,000 for breaching COVID safety rules.
And Panthers club was not the only venue to cop a fine as a result of punter behaviour during the Sunday clash, The Brewery at the Novotel and the Locker Room - both at Sydney Olympic Park - also copped a $5000 fine each.
The fines have triggered a warning from the state government to people and venues planning to host Halloween parties: abide by COVID regulations or face similar penalties. Inspectors will be out in force on Saturday night.
CCTV footage taken at Panthers on Sunday showed Grand Final punters standing up and drinking in groups. Others were standing around watching the big-screen action as venue staff attempted to separate them.
Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello said he was concerned about the approaching summer, warning that the public needed to continue to take the virus seriously.
"We can't sleepwalk in to summer. We have to remain on high alert," he said.
"Any venue found breaking the rules will face serious penalties. Staff and customer safety must always come first.
"We thought bushfires travelled fast. The virus travels faster. If what is happening in Europe right now doesn't wake you up, then I'm not sure what will.
"We are still living in a pandemic and venues cannot let their guard down."
Liquor and Gaming NSW compliance director Dimitri Argeres said those breaking the rules were not thinking about the venue, its staff or others.
At the same time, venues needed to make sure they were adequately implementing their safety plans, especially when higher patron numbers were expected.
"It's not fair on the club, its staff or the community and we expect better behaviour from patrons who need to be aware of the rules when attending a venue," he said.
"Sporting events build up anticipation and create lots of excitement, we get that. But they also create exactly the types of situation we're trying to avoid - crowds that mingle and turn into one big group of close contacts.
"We're just about to get full swing into party season with sports finals, the races, school formals, and Christmas and New Year's functions.
"These are all events where caution can be forgotten, but don't forget life isn't quite back to normal yet and if we want to enjoy summer with our friends and families, we need to keep COVID transmission low."
Mr Argeres said Liquor and Gaming NSW inspectors would be visiting venues holding Halloween parties on Saturday night to check patrons were keeping COVID safe.
Originally published as Grand Final punters cost Panthers $10k for COVID breaches