SURF Life Saving NSW is updating advice to clubs after a Central Coast club refused to refund a $1500 bond for a May wedding following a NSW Government ban on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
A couple was advised the bond for a wedding of more than 100 people would not be returned because the couple had "cancelled" the wedding, despite the venue's obligation to comply with the cap and the couple's decision to restrict the wedding to immediate family in line with health guidance.
SLSNSW said it hoped that "surf clubs, like many other organisations and businesses, would be treating hirers fairly and with compassion" by offering postponements, credit notes or reviewing cancellation policies because of coronavirus restrictions.
"As surf clubs are often the hub of the community in many places, it is in the interests of clubs to react and respond to changes and support their communities wherever possible," a SLSNSW spokesperson said.
"Irrespective of the reason for a cancellation of venue hire at Surf Life Saving Clubs, the current extraordinary circumstances which are affecting us all needs to be considered."
Hunter wedding venues scrambled this week to accommodate hundreds of changed wedding plans in response to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard's order on Wednesday threatening substantial fines for venues holding indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
On Friday afternoon there was a fresh round of discussions with anxious couples preparing for weddings on the weekend weekend, and in the next two weeks, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced new requirements for indoor venues to allow four square metres of space for every patron.
Congewai's Lonely Goat Olives guesthouse and wedding venue owner Keith Hallett said his business, like other Hunter venues, had dealt with bushfires and flood in the past few months and the coronavirus threat was a blow "just as the business was bouncing back".
But it was up to everyone to be reasonable as Australia tries to limit the health and economic impacts of coronavirus because "that's the right thing to do", Mr Hallett said.
"It's no-one's fault," he said.
Hunter Valley Gardens marketing and communications manager Kim Jacobs said couples and their families were understandably upset that weddings which might have been planned for a long time at the Pokolbin venue had to be changed, but they "weren't upset with us".
"It's just really sad but it's beyond everybody's control. We're just here to do what we can and so far nobody has cancelled. We've talked with people about reducing numbers and weddings are still going ahead," Ms Jacobs said.
"Everybody's been impacted by this. We're not Robinson Crusoe. It's a matter of talking things through and working out how to do things together."
Pokolbin's Chateau Elan at The Vintage has also not had any couples cancel their weddings because of coronavirus, although some with more than 100 guests were already revising numbers down under the cap because of international travel restrictions, sales and revenue manager Jodie Staples said.
The Vintage would continue to negotiate with couples if conditions change, find new dates if weddings are postponed and refund deposits if weddings cannot be postponed, Ms Staples said.
A wedding next weekend will include requiring guests to make a health declaration, social distancing, encouraging guests to use the resort's outdoor areas and staff wearing masks and gloves.
NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said NSW Fair Trading is working with state and Federal consumer protection agencies to help consumers.
"We hope customers and vendors can work together during these uncertain times," Mr Anderson said.