Country pub manager bursts into tears as undercover cops hand out $6,672 fine because no-one asked them to sign in and people playing pool upstairs weren’t social distancing
- Owner of a struggling regional Queensland pub has slammed undercover police
- Royal on Ninety-Nine was fined $6,672 after social distancing wasn’t adhered to
- The fine was also because staff didn’t ask for the police officers’ contact details
- Police also fined the nearby Federal Hotel in Wallumbilla $6,672 for their breach
The owner of a struggling pub has slammed undercover police officers for slapping with him with a $6,672 fine for breaking social distancing rules.
Royal on Ninety-Nine, in the regional Queensland town of Roma, was fined on Sunday after staff didn’t ask the plain clothes officers for contact details.
Owner Bruce Garvie said the cops also went upstairs and found a couple of men playing a game of pool without practicing social distancing.
‘We weren’t aware of that. These police reduced the manager to tears. This is not the way you police things,’ he told the ABC.
Royal on Ninety-Nine, in the regional Queensland town of Roma, was fined $6,672 on Sunday after staff didn’t ask the plain clothes officers for contact details
The owner said the cops also went upstairs and found a couple of men playing a game of pool without practicing social distancing (pictured prior to the pandemic)
Mr Garvie said local police had visited the venue every week to make sure it was following COVID-19 protocols.
But the police who issued the fine weren’t from the small country town.
‘We have a good rapport with the [local] police. If we were doing something wrong, they would know and they would come and talk to us,’ Mr Garvie said.
Mr Garvie said the fines should have never been issued, and claimed the handling of the incident has been ‘atrocious’.
Queensland Police told Daily Mail Australia that officers fined three hotels in Roma, Injune and Wallumbilla for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s direction.
‘During the operation it was identified businesses were failing to restrict patron numbers appropriately, implement social distancing measures, appropriately maintain guest registries and restrict people from gathering around bars,’ a spokesman said.
Police officers visited Royal on Ninety-Nine on Saturday and had pointed out areas where they were in breach of coronavirus guidelines before plain clothed officers showed up on Sunday.
Mr Garvie said his staff must have accidentally forgotten to record the undercover cops’ details as it was busy on Sunday.
He said the officers should have used their discretion as small businesses are already struggling to stay afloat due to the impact of lockdowns.
‘We’ve all bled thousands. There are businesses going broke. Queensland had a football game with 10,000 people on Saturday night … and they still think it’s worth their while driving all the way here to do that,’ he said.
Mr Garvie admitted his staff have slipped up on following restrictions, which require no more than 20 patrons per section and one customer per four square metres.
Owner Bruce Garvie said the officers should have used their discretion as small businesses are already struggling financially due to lockdown
‘We try to be 100 per cent where we can, but I’m honest, we’re not. We’re 80 per cent,’ he told 7NEWS.
‘Staff are doing as good a job as they can. They’re under the pump. I just think it’s ridiculous. We’re just getting fed up with this.
‘Common sense should come into things eventually.’
Police also fined the Federal Hotel in Wallumbilla – 40km away from Roma – $6,672 for breaching social distancing restrictions.
Owner Samantha Senescall took to social media to accuse police officers of posing as patrons just to target vulnerable businesses.
‘They pretend to come for lunch [in a] big group. They pushed and pulled their own tables together and didn’t sign and register in book in bar … they come back next day to enforce and slap you with $6600 fine,’ Ms Senescall said.
‘Well done on killing the struggling little guy. Don’t think we can survive after this one.
‘Thank you wonderful people for your support. Love you guys. But this is the last straw.’
Mr Garvie admitted his staff have slipped up on following restrictions, which require no more than 20 patrons per section and one customer per four square metres