COVID-19 Updates - 16th March, 2020

Mass gatherings of 500 people

Australia’s Federal Government has outlawed (fines of up to $55,000 apply) anyone from holding organised, non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16 March 2020.

ClubsNSW considers these restrictions will not apply to the regular trading activities of registered clubs, however large organised events such as badge draws, weddings and music concerts may need to be cancelled, or attendance reduced to below 500 people.

Based on the current restriction, many ANZAC day events will likely need to be cancelled or the number of attendees capped.

Clubs planning to cap attendance at events to below 500 should note that other countries have established bans on as few as 50 people, and Australia or NSW may promptly impose stricter bans on gatherings.

While the situation is rapidly evolving, the following statement was sent to the media on Friday:

NSW clubs remain open for business, and the public can be assured that their local club is a safe and hygienic environment, with no detected cases of COVID-19 to date at 1200 venues across the state.

The Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) were clear in their advice that while non-essential mass gatherings such as sporting events and concerts will have to be reviewed, people should go about their everyday lives.

Day-to-day club operations will be unaffected, and venues have already taken proactive steps to ensure that your local club is a safe place to enjoy a meal and a drink.

The CMO has confirmed that the infection rates, and risk to the community, of COVID-19 remain very low.

If your club is holding an organised event with fewer than 500 people, NSW Health advises that you remind attendees (including staff) not to attend if they are feeling unwell or were overseas in the past 14 days, among other measures (for more information, see NSW Health’s FAQs here).

If a patron or employee contracts COVID-19

If there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your club premises or other facilities your club operates, you should immediately notify NSW Health, on 9391 9000. Member clubs should follow all advice provided by NSW Health.

Managing patrons

Clubs should be aware that their individual members may be feeling increasingly anxious. ClubsNSW therefore encourages clubs to take measures to instil confidence that their club remains safe.

Clubs should also be instituting new practices to respond to the Coronavirus. It is important for clubs to show individual members how they are taking precautions. Clubs may want to consider the following measures:

  • instructing patrons to practise social distancing, which means maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres from other people for an extended period, and not shaking hands;
  • instituting frequent sanitisation of “high touch areas” including bathrooms, door handles and buttons;
  • creating distance between patrons playing gaming machines; such as a rule that every second gaming machine will be switched off;
  • reducing the capacity of the club’s dining facilities, such as by removing tables and chairs, or imposing a patron capacity;
  • introducing hand sanitisers throughout the venue;
  • providing cutlery to people at their dining table, rather than leaving cutlery on the table.

ClubsNSW has received several enquiries from Member Clubs on how to respond to instances of unwell patrons. Details on symptoms and other risk factors can be found here.

Clubs may ask a patron to leave the premises if the patron poses a risk to the employees or other patrons. If a club becomes aware that a patron is at-risk, clubs are advised to respectfully discuss the matter with the patron (while also maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres).

Whether to ask the patron to leave is ultimately subject to the Club’s judgement, however staff should consider information released by health authorities, including:

  • if the person has a fever or cough;
  • if the person was instructed to self-isolate.

Clubs are obligated to ask a patron to leave if the person arrived in Australia after midnight on 16 March 2020, in accordance with the Government’s new laws forcing recent arrivals to self-isolate. Clubs should clearly log or record any instances.

Managing staff

ClubsNSW appreciates this is a difficult and distressing time for clubs, amid weak economic and business conditions. Regrettably, clubs may need to consider exceptional measures to respond to the evolving business environment, including reducing staffing. For assistance on workplace relations, including the engagement and deployment of staff, please contact Legal Counsels, Mikhail Ushakoff on 9268 3046 or Nicola Shaw on 9268 3012.

If an employee appears sick, your Club should tell the employee that they cannot return to work unless they provide a medical certificate that substantiates their good health.

Financial hardship

Given the reduction in trade, clubs with outstanding loans may experience cash flow or solvency issues. The Australian Banking Association is inviting businesses to contact their bank if they are experiencing hardship. Banks can offer assistance including deferred loan payments and waiving fees. Details of the banking industry’s financial hardship measures, including contact information for different banks, can be found here.

ClubsNSW is engaging with the Government to request special measures for clubs including gaming machine tax deferral and payroll tax relief.

Government stimulus

The Government has announced a stimulus package which includes cash flow support for businesses with revenue of less than $50 million. The stimulus will provide support of between $2,000 and $25,000. Further information on the cash flow assistance, including how it is provided, can be found here.

The Government is also providing investment incentives and support for businesses to retain apprentices and trainees. Further information on the suite of Government assistance measures can be found here.

Cancellation of commercial contracts

Many clubs may be required to cancel events including weddings, conferences and music concerts. This may be due to the event holder cancelling the event or the Government’s announcement on large gatherings of 500 people. Moreover, suppliers to clubs may be unable to source products due to supply chain disruptions.

Clubs are advised to review their contracts and possibly contact the club legal representative to resolve how these issues should be addressed. This includes money deposited with the club to hold an event as well as money the club has already spent on costs associated with a supplier or an event.

Clubs should also contact their insurance providers in relation to any losses which cannot be recovered.

Media assistance for clubs

ClubsNSW has staff who are capable of offering media support should a club require it. For assistance on COVID-19 media, please contact Darren Flynn, Manager of Media and Marketing, on 9268 3069.


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For more information or any questions, please contact the ClubsNSW Members Enquiries Centre.

Contact Member Enquiries Centre