Deputy Premier and leader of the NSW Nationals' John Barilaro was in town on Friday as part of an initiative to advocate the safe reopening of pubs and clubs across regional NSW.
Mr Barilaro attended the Knickerbocker Hotel alongside Bathurst MP Paul Toole to launch the rollout of new COVID-safe kits produced by Tooheys Brewing.
"We made the difficult decision just before Easter to shut down pubs, clubs and restaurants and restrict non-essential travel to protect rural and regional NSW communities from the spread of COVID-19," Mr Barilaro said.
"Now that we're starting to reopen the regions, we want to ensure each community is aware that their 'locals' are open and ready to accept patrons again, and I'm fulfilling my promise to provide that first shout."
The safety kits, including bathroom signs, payment advice, sneeze guards for ordering and floor stickers to promote physical distancing, will be rolled out to nearly 1000 pubs and clubs over the coming weeks.
"These kits are designed to help pubs and clubs inform and remind their customers of what they need to do to keep COVID-safe when socialising, especially going into the long weekend," Mr Barilaro said.
Mr Barilaro said the further eases in restrictions will help the state recover from a challenging couple of months.
"We saw the April figures; 221,000 jobs lost in NSW, an unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent; everyone in the state is wearing that pain," he said.
"The tourism and hospitality industries are big employers in NSW and with regional travel back on the cards and the long weekend looming, we want tourists to enjoy the countless attractions rural and regional areas have to offer."
Bathurst MP Paul Toole said Mr Barilaro's visit is part of a tour [dubbed 'Barra's Round for the Regions'] to promote the resilience of rural and regional NSW.
"Regional NSW has been hit hard over the last few years, not just by COVID-19 but drought and bushfires as well," Mr Toole said.
"We know things aren't the same as they once were, but these eases to restrictions are a step in the right direction, and it has created a strong sense of excitement in the local community."
Knickerbocker Hotel owner Scott Macallister said it was a and honour to welcome the Deputy Premier into the venue for the announcement.
"We appreciate the state government and Tooheys using our venue to promote a safe return to pubs and clubs," Mr Macallister said.
"It's been a positive first week back for us, and we're looking forward to the long weekend and beyond."