Shaw & Co Char and Bar owner Matt Cause. Picture: Evan Morgan
Shaw & Co Char and Bar owner Matt Cause. Picture: Evan Morgan

STAY AWAY: Industry bosses want Vics locked out

Don't let the Victorians or NSW people in but ease up on the density restrictions for Townsville food outlets, says renowned restaurateur Danny Meares.

The Watermark bar and restaurant owner who operated Danny's Seafood Restaurant at La Perouse and Bondi for 30 years before he relocated to Townsville agreed his comments might shock his Sydney friends.



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But he said he had become a "real North Queenslander now".

"My opinion is we have no cases up here in North Queensland - we are the safest place in Australia right now," Mr Meares said.

"As long as they keep those Victorians and NSW people out of the area, we'll be fine.

"I've become a real North Queenslander now after six years and I just don't want them up here."

Mr Meares was commenting on the plight of the city's restaurant operators who said they remained hamstrung by the state's occupant density regulations.

Densities were eased last week for venues or spaces of 200sq m or less to no more than one person per 2sq m but maintained at no more than one person per 4sq m for larger venues.

Shaw and Co in City Lane is one of the smaller venues, which was supposed to benefit but venue manager Matt Cause said the inclusion of a 50-person cap meant they were still being hamstrung and, if anything, were worse off.

Shaw & Co Char and Bar owner Matt Cause. Picture: Evan Morgan
Shaw & Co Char and Bar owner Matt Cause. Picture: Evan Morgan

Bar service had been reintroduced, increasing staff and wage costs, while turnover continued to be restrained.

"For us the 2sq m rule sounded good when it came out but with a cap of 50 people it is not," Mr Cause said.

"We are running about 40 per cent of normal capacity. (The easing) gave us an extra eight individual seats.

"It's still very low density and very inefficient for us."

Restaurateur Jamie Fitzpatrick said occupant densities at their venues, which included The Courtyard in City Lane and Shorehouse on the Strand, were maintained at one person per 4sq m despite the apparent easing.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the disparities between the number of people allowed to gather in homes, venues and on aircraft were creating angst and confusion.

"If the government thinks that, at the levels now, businesses are out of the woods then we are in trouble because we are far from it," Mr Fitzpatrick said. "We do need our politicians to understand that the current environment is not sustainable."

Mr Fitzpatrick said the viability of businesses and the experience of customers was being affected.

Originally published as STAY AWAY: Industry bosses want Vics locked out