• Toni Ambrogetti

'Plugging holes': Tamworth business left reeling by new rule


One Tamworth business has been left reeling following the announcement of a strict rule to tackle the spread of coronavirus.


The government has banned non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, effective immediately. This comes after the ban on outdoor events of more than 500.


Essential gatherings include airports, public transport, hotels, prisons, courts, shopping centres, offices and construction sites.


Rod Laing, CEO of the Wests Entertainment Group, said they are awaiting clarification of whether the 100 person limit applies to per room in a venue or per venue.


He said despite waiting for this information, operations at the business has already been impacted.


"There are a lot of challenges that come with this," he said.


"Already, bingo sessions have ceased, for now, raffles will stop from tomorrow, weekend entertainment will end, and the free bus for members will stop.


"I can not rule out the possibility that some of the business may shut down."


Mr Laing said they are grappling to come to terms with the new normal while ensuring they do their part in stopping the spread of Covid-19.


He added they are appealing to the government to defer the gaming tax that is set to be charged this weekend, to give owners across the country temporary relief.


Mr Laing said the company is "plugging holes", and said it had been a "tough and emotional day".


"We are dealing with the issue hour-by-hour," he said.


"Our message to the members is to look after themselves and look after their neighbours and loved ones."


Mr Laing said a consequence of the order would be seniors in the community losing their social time when so many use the business as a way to stay connected.


He added that it would be hard to rebuild when the ban on gatherings is lifted.


One way, Mr Laing said Wests Entertainment Group is trying to help their staff is by offering them stock at cost prices if they are unable to access necessities at the supermarkets.


Forum 6 Cinemas Tamworth announced through social media that they would be adapting their business to keep their doors open.


"For us, at the cinema, it means no more than 100 in each cinema," he said.


"So, we are open and will remain so until advised otherwise.


"We have sanitisation practices in place and have reduced cinema numbers to be well under the 100 and ask customers to practice social distancing - 2-3 seats [apart], in the cinema and 1.5 gaps in the foyer lines, in conjunction with the now usual practices of handwashing, sanitising etc."

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