Three Wagga pubs are expected to be hit with $5500 fines after being found in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.
Officers from the Riverina Police District conducted a number of audits at licensed venues over the weekend, making "concerning" discoveries.
District Commander Superintendent Bob Noble said they found a number of venues lacking COVID Safe Plans, contact registers, and other breaches of their obligations.
"We audited 12 venues in Wagga and found concerns in almost all of those," he said.
"We have identified three pubs from the weekend, of the most serious cases, but also quite a number of other offences being dealt with via warnings."
Superintendent Noble said the three pubs in breach could expect "fines of up to $5500 to be issued".
"Staff had very little knowledge of what they needed to abide by in many cases, so I would encourage people operating these businesses to seek advice," he said.
"Ignorance is no excuse."
The police did not say which three venues would be receiving the fines.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A number of police from the High Visibility Policing Unit have teamed up with the Licensing Unit, according to Superintendent Noble, who said will conduct a number of inspections at premises across the region over the coming weeks.
"If people aren't complying, we will issue hefty fines where necessary," he said.
"There will be very little leeway now in terms of giving out warnings.
"We are very serious about this, because what we have seen in Victoria is a concerning trend and it could very easily happen in NSW and very easily in the Riverina - we can't afford to have that happen."
Businesses are reminded to keep up to date with ministerial expectations, including no more than one person per four square metres, no more that 300 people in a single venue irrespective of the size, maintaining registers of customer, staff and contractor details, having a COVID safe marshal, and more.
Superintendent Noble urged operators to take the rules seriously.
"What is the point of a plan if you don't do anything with it?" he said.
"Otherwise, it's just a piece of paper that affords you and your customers no protection and no safety."
This story first appeared in the Daily Advertiser.