MISUNDERSTANDING: Food and beverage manager Chris Schneider behind the bar at Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay.
MISUNDERSTANDING: Food and beverage manager Chris Schneider behind the bar at Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Booze inspectors did tequila shots at Aquarius backpackers

FOLLOWING the announcement Aquarius Backpackers in Byron Bay is voluntarily closing its bar from June 17, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) yesterday issued a statement accusing the venue of licensing breaches despite agreeing to the Byron Bay Liquor Accord.

Aquarius is licensed to sell alcohol to those staying at the premises (or a guest of a resident while in the resident's company) and those eating in the restaurant, however, the OLGR alleges the backpackers sold its covert officers alcohol despite telling staff they were visitors and had no intention of eating.

"OLGR is concerned that the inclusion of a voucher for a sausage sandwich when purchasing an initial drink may demonstrate a misunderstanding of obligations under liquor laws or may be an ill-conceived attempt to overcome harm minimisation requirements," an OLGR spokesperson said.

The OLGR said no decision had been made on further regulatory action against the venue.

However, they said Aquarius had been issued with penalty notices following two recent covert visits in which inspectors were able to buy alcohol without being asked if they were staying in accommodation or being required to purchase food, and were also allowed to purchase shots of tequila.

Aquarius owner Harry Chua this week denied the business had knowingly breached regulations, but would close the bar while awaiting its application to extend its licensing permission to one that did not require patrons to purchase food to be served alcohol.



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