Pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to temporarily serve takeaway alcohol after the ACT government loosened liquor licensing rules to help venues trade through the coronavirus shutdown.
Venues will also be able to offer home delivery of beer and wine, as they desperately attempt to keep money coming through the door while customers aren't.
Bars, pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants were forced to shut across the country as of midday on Monday under measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. They are still allowed to offer takeaway services.
Most states, including Victoria and NSW, have responded by tweaking liquor laws to allow venues to sell takeaway alcohol, as well as food. WA will allow takeaway alcohol, but with restrictions.
The ACT government has now followed suit, inviting venues who are licensed to sell alcohol "on-premise" - such as bars and restaurants - to apply for a permit allowing them to offer a takeaway service.
The free permit will be issued for a three-month period.
More than 100 venues had applied for a permit, as of 4pm on Wednesday. Thirty-five applications had been approved, while Access Canberra was in talks with more than 70 venues.
Wes Heincke, who runs Assembly on Lonsdale Street, said a takeaway service could be a lifeline for the popular venue, which has been forced to let go 65 of its 75 staff since the shutdown started.
"The biggest thing with all of this is cashflow, you simply cannot survive if you haven't got revenue coming through the door," Mr Heincke said.
Mr Heincke said remaining staff members would help with deliveries of the "tens of thousands of dollars worth of booze and food" which it had in stock. He said business has been very slow this week, but was hopeful it would pick up as more people became accustomed to increasingly strict social-distancing measures.
"We're a pretty optimistic business and a pretty optimistic bunch. We'll just work our ass off to keep things afloat. The main goal for us is to keep this going so that they [casuals who lost their job] have a job to come back to."
Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley was pleased the government had adopted the idea, which had been pushing for.
"This will provide a small cash-flow lifeline to our members and their staff who have been decimated by the forced closure of the hospitality industry," Mr Brierley said.
"We all want our favourite hospitality businesses to re-open on the other side of this crisis. It is imperative that Canberrans support venues now by embracing the new takeaway and delivery models."
Minister for Business and Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay said the measure was designed to save jobs in the hospitality sector.
"I'm pleased the ACT government is able to support industry by helping them diversify their licencing arrangements allowing them to continue to trade, whilst still complying with social distancing measures," Mr Ramsay said.
"I know a lot of businesses are doing it tough right now.
"Sadly, it is likely that matters will get worse before they get better. I encourage Canberrans, where it is still safe and possible, to support our local businesses during this time."
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