Harrup Park Country Club CEO Matt Cielens said trading restrictions placed pressure on the venue’s viability. Picture: Tony Martin
Harrup Park Country Club CEO Matt Cielens said trading restrictions placed pressure on the venue’s viability. Picture: Tony Martin

CHEERS? Clubs, pubs hope to double trade within weeks

MACKAY pubs and restaurants are ready to get the party started early, calling for a drastic easing of restrictions as soon as July 10.

They want the State Government to replace the 20-person cap with a one person per 4sq m rule.

The move would bring Queensland in line with NSW and dramatically increase the number of patrons who can be served at one time, providing a much-needed economic boost.

Leading the charge is Harrup Park Country Club chief executive Matt Cielens, who said relaxing the current rules would have a big impact on the club, which is struggling to maintain long-term viability.

Current rules limit restaurants and bars to up to 20 patrons per room or area.

The venue's normal capacity more than 1000, but under current regulations it is operating at a capacity of 120.

A move to the one person per 4sq m rule would boost occupancy to more than 300 people at a time.

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Mr Cielens said the proposed changes would be welcomed by businesses across the Mackay region.

"We are a large venue and we do have a lot of space to accommodate the 4sq m and unfortunately the 20 people per area is a little bit challenging from an atmosphere point of view, from an operational view and from a viability view, it becomes difficult," he said.

"The quicker we can get back to normal proportions in the venue, the better for everyone."

If current restrictions were sustained, Mr Cielens said the club's community outreach programs would suffer.

"Our business is not just food and beverage, there are functions, wagering, gaming and a number of other elements," he said.

"We need all to be operating at where they were previously to make us a viable operation that can continue to support the community in the way we have always done."

Mackay has not reported a new coronavirus case since April after all 15 diagnosed patients were classified as recovered on May 2.

Janette Paull manages the Deck Steakhouse, the Lighthouse and Sails - she said the proposed changes would have little to no impact on smaller venues.

"If you look at a big club, it will make a big difference … my defined areas are smaller (and) it does not make any difference," she said.

The Deck's normal capacity is about 70 seats. Mrs Paull said under current restrictions she can seat 28.

"If the restriction were going to the new one, I can only have 28 still," she said.

The Daily Mercury understands despite reports that the State Government is considering replacing the 20-person cap with a one person per 4sq m rule, discussions are going in a different direction.

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The government is believed to be sticking to its plan already flagged, with restrictions to ease at restaurants and pubs on July 10 under stage three of its road map.

This would allow venues to accommodate a maximum of 100 customers under a COVIDSafe plan.

It is understood the government has no plan to bring forward stage three.


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