Page title


This guideline/fact sheet is not designed to be comprehensive, or a legal document but has been prepared to support the COVID Safety Guidelines: Food Businesses in relation to venues licensed under the Liquor Control Act 1988 (the Act). The Act remains the overarching legislation that governs the supply and service of liquor in all licensed venues. However, there are significant changes to operation during this time to ensure the community’s health and safety. Guidelines and directions by the State Emergency Coordinator override any existing licence conditions and should be strictly adhered to. 

Social distancing

Every effort should be made by venues to encourage social distancing while patrons are seated at a table. However, the recommended distance of 1.5 metres is not legally binding. Tables within the venue must be distanced according to the Safety Guidelines: Food Businesses.

Upon taking bookings, or walk-ins, for dine in, seated patrons, staff should advise that the group will be seated at the same table, unless the seating arrangement is specified by the patron/s. Patrons who are known to each other will then self-regulate their seated distance at the table. Patrons are encouraged to social distance whenever possible.

Venues will not be responsible for patrons’ seated distance at a table. 


The Safety Guidelines stipulate that no liquor will be served without a meal, regardless of licence type. 

It is the responsibility of licensees to establish whether patrons intend to consume a meal and liquor should only be supplied to patrons seated at a table or other dining structure.

Venues are expected to regulate the consumption of a meal, with liquor ancillary to food table service, with consideration to food being substantial to the extent that a patron is not reasonably expected to become intoxicated consuming the food to alcohol ratio served.

As a guide, the Act defines a “meal” as:

meal means food:

  1. that is eaten by a person sitting at a table, or a fixed structure used as a table, with cutlery provided for the purpose of eating the food; and
  2. that is of sufficient substance as to be ordinarily accepted as a meal; and
  3. that may consist of one or more courses,

but does not include any food prescribed not to be a meal.

Licensees should apply common sense to assessing proportionality of food to alcohol service.

Licensee and employees not included in 20-patron limit

For the purposes of Stage 2, there will be a limit of 20-patrons being seated at tables in any venue. 

Licensees and employees are excluded from this limit – which for licensed venues includes: Licensees, managers, employees or agents such as crowd controllers. Licensees should ensure that all managers and employees have appropriate identification and or proof of employment status readily available.

Consumption of liquor

Liquor must be consumed ancillary to a meal only. 

Drinks are not to be consumed prior to a meal unless a patron is in the process of ordering or has ordered a meal and is awaiting delivery of food.

Licensees should ensure patrons do not remain on the premises for an unreasonable amount of time after they have finished their meal.

Patrons must not consume alcohol at a bar or standing area – they must be seated at a table or other dining structure.

Licensees should manage patrons’ expectations of liquor service.


It is acknowledged that tastings are a unique industry offering and wine sales are boosted by tastings. While many wineries provide meals to supplement their business, it is normally a separate activity, and producers will not have a dining option. During Stage 2, tastings will only be permitted to patrons seated at a table or other dining structure, and ancillary to a meal.


Whilst there is concern from hospitality venues surrounding new guidelines and adhering to all directions, inspectors, regulators and police officers will continue to take a supportive and educative approach to compliance during this time, provided businesses have made genuine attempts to comply with requirements. Venues should make best endeavours to observe and adhere to all guidelines in Stage 2.

Please note: These guidelines apply to the Stage 2 period only. Whilst some businesses will choose not to operate during this period, consultation will continue in an effort to reactivate business in Western Australia, in line with health advice.

Page reviewed 11 September 2023