A Sydney venue has been fined $5000 for allowing at least 600 wedding guests, almost double its COVID-safe capacity, as authorities ponder harsher penalties.
The breach at the wedding reception in Fairfield, in the city’s southwest, has left politicians and police outraged, as it is only 10 kilometres from the Berala COVID-19 hotspot.
Police attended the venue on Saturday and estimated at least 600 people were at the reception, despite a COVID-safe capacity of 350.
Guests are yet to be penalised but the venue operator, a 46-year-old man, has been fined $5000 for breaching public health orders.
Once police intervened, many guests were told to depart.
Acting Premier John Barilaro is furious about the breach.
“When you have a deliberate act like the venue operators … in this case we’ve got an example of somebody who’s done bloody wrong,” Mr Barilaro told reporters on Monday.
“He puts his business, his reputation, that business’ reputation at risk, (plus) the sector, the broader economy, jobs, the health of this state.”
Mr Barilaro acknowledged the $5000 penalty may be insufficient given the amount of revenue the venue likely garnered from the wedding.
He said NSW health authorities would consider beefing up penalties.
“No one wins when someone cheats, when everyone else in your industry is doing the right thing and you’ve decided to deliberately disobey the rules, you jeopardise your own business,” Mr Barilaro said.
Police Minister David Elliott described the breach as baffling.
“It is a terrible start to the police week … and it is baffling that somebody would breach it so badly,” Mr Elliott told the Nine Network on Monday.
“This isn’t one or two people coming from an area in lockdown or, you know, this isn’t a dozen people that turned up unannounced.
“This is twice the amount of people that were allowed to attend that wedding reception, in an area not far from Berala.”
Acting Police Commissioner Mal Lanyon also labelled the breach “significant”, saying its potential health consequences were immense.
NSW Police on Monday also revealed they had twice fined a 27-year-old Cronulla woman in Byron Bay for failing to self-isolate or get tested, despite being a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
Two Collaroy locals were also fined for leaving their northern beaches home in contravention of stay-at-home orders to travel to Yamba in NSW’s north.