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Crossroad Hotel patrons claim pub was packed and social distancing not followed

The pub at the centre of Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak was packed to the rafters and social distancing barely followed, patrons claim.

Crossroads Hotel in Casula, southwest Sydney, is now the most infamous pub in town as the cluster threatens to send NSW back into lockdown.

Locals say the pub is extremely popular and has been trading as normal with big crowds on Friday and Saturday night even since the pandemic.

Chelsea Sarkis, 22, said she and her boyfriend almost walked out as soon as they came in for dinner on July 4 because it was so crowded.

Chelsea Sarkis, 22, said she and her boyfriend almost walked out as soon as they came in for dinner on July 4 because it was so crowded

Crossroads Hotel in Casula, southwest Sydney, is now the most infamous pub in town as the cluster threatens to send NSW back into lockdown

Crossroads Hotel in Casula, southwest Sydney, is now the most infamous pub in town as the cluster threatens to send NSW back into lockdown 

‘The first thing we thought was there were way too many people here. We continued our night, took precautions, kept our distance,’ she said.

This one dinner meant she had to self-isolate at home for the past two weeks, along with hundreds of others who drank at the pub that week. 

Ms Sarkis got herself tested at the pop-up clinic in the pub’s car park on July 11 and tested negative, but 45 other staff and patrons have caught the virus.

So many people showed up at the clinic that it took her seven hours over two days to get tested, with lines of cars snaking around the block.

Ms Sarkis said she was asked to write down her details at the entrance, but other patrons claimed they weren’t at any time during their visit.

‘I was there on July 5 about 5pm and there was no login. I walked straight in, ordered a meal, sat down and left,’ one patron said.

‘It was like walking into a pub pre-covid,’ another patron said.

This one dinner meant Ms Sarkis had to self-isolate at home for the past two weeks, along with hundreds of others who drank at the pub that week

This one dinner meant Ms Sarkis had to self-isolate at home for the past two weeks, along with hundreds of others who drank at the pub that week

Ms Sarkis got herself tested at the pop-up clinic in the pub's car park on July 11 and tested negative, but 45 other staff and patrons have caught the virus

Ms Sarkis got herself tested at the pop-up clinic in the pub’s car park on July 11 and tested negative, but 45 other staff and patrons have caught the virus

Others claimed the hand sanitiser dispensers were empty and that staff were not changing their gloves between each group of customers. 

Crossroads staff rejected the claims, saying each table had pens and paper and management had drilled into them that they must ensure restrictions are followed and the 362-person capacity wasn’t exceeded.

A bartender, who asked not to be identified as they were not authorised to talk to media, said police walked through the premises on July 3 and 4 without issue.

‘The problem is some people didn’t fill them out even when they were on the table and staff wouldn’t find out until they left,’ the bartender said.

‘Some people refused and said they didn’t want to due to privacy reasons, they were told to fill it out or leave and some people just filled out fake documents.’

So many people showed up at the clinic that it took seven hours over two days to get tested, with lines of cars snaking around the block

So many people showed up at the clinic that it took seven hours over two days to get tested, with lines of cars snaking around the block 

These tradies seem relaxed as they wait for hours in their car to get tested after drinking at the pub days earlier

These tradies seem relaxed as they wait for hours in their car to get tested after drinking at the pub days earlier

NSW Police are investigating Crossroads amid allegations it failed to enforce patrons signing in upon entry and maintain social distancing. 

Pub baron owner Jason Marlow said he wasn’t aware of any breaches and 80 per cent of his patrons made bookings with their details before arrival. 

‘We have been following the health department’s recommended one person per group booking rule, however, we are now changing our system to having licence scanning equipment at all entry points.

‘There has never been a capacity breach at the venue.’

The nearby Planet Fitness gym is the site of another, smaller, outbreak after a patient infected at Crossroads worked out there.

But by contrast, members have praised the gym for taking the pandemic seriously and implementing a raft of safety protocols that were actually enforced.

‘They did a fantastic job at spacing everything out, all the staff wear masks and they’ve got sanitiser stations, so I think it was just unluckiness – they couldn’t have done anything different,’ gym regular Paula Boardman told the Sun-Herald.

Forty-five cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious

Forty-five cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious

Health authorities confirmed the cluster was linked to the outbreak enveloping Victoria and was carried there by a traveller from Victoria

Health authorities confirmed the cluster was linked to the outbreak enveloping Victoria and was carried there by a traveller from Victoria

It’s not the first time Crossroads has been in the spotlight – with rumours of shady meetings among bikies, truckie stopovers, and missing backpackers.

Veteran crime reporter Les Kennedy knew the pub well, having met with sources there while working on his biography of serial Killer Ivan Milat.

He described it as ‘the haunt of a mixture of bikies and printed-shirt ordinary guys. But definitely not a coat kind of place’ in his book Sins of the Brother.

The stretch of Hume Highway near Liverpool was where Milat picked up a number of his victims between December 1989 and April 1992. 

At the time it was the last pub in Sydney before travellers entered the Hume Highway heading to Melbourne.

This made the area Milat’s favourite hunting ground, as it was a place he’d known since his youth and was frequented by perfect potential victims.

Milat targeted young people travelling freely around Australia who were excited by their upcoming adventures and less guarded with strangers.

Even people who don't live in the area and have never been there would be familiar with Crossroads (pictured in the 1950s) as the huge hotel is a visible landmark on the way into Sydney

Even people who don’t live in the area and have never been there would be familiar with Crossroads (pictured in the 1950s) as the huge hotel is a visible landmark on the way into Sydney

The pub was a favourite haunt of serial killer Ivan Milat, who targeted carefree travellers in the area between December 1989 and April 1992

The pub was a favourite haunt of serial killer Ivan Milat, who targeted carefree travellers in the area between December 1989 and April 1992

Missing backpacker, Carmen Verheyden, 22, was last seen sitting outside Crossroads on March 10, 1991, while trying to hitchhike after a party

Missing backpacker, Carmen Verheyden, 22, was last seen sitting outside Crossroads on March 10, 1991, while trying to hitchhike after a party

Another young backpacker, Carmen Verheyden, 22, was last seen sitting outside Crossroads on March 10, 1991, while trying to hitchhike after a party.

She wasn’t a confirmed victim of Milat but her disappearance bore a remarkable resemblance to Milat’s modus operandi.

Alternatively, Ms Verheyden may have overdosed on heroin she took at the pub, according to testimony by her housemate to a coronial inquest.

The flatmate said she collapsed after she and her friend were injected with the drug by a man police described as a ‘well-known drug offender’.

Crossroads was the site of another shocking crime in September 2017 when a young mother was raped twice in the bathroom of her hotel room.

Abathur Khamas was last year jailed for at least two years and four months for the attack on the woman after a drinking session at the pub downstairs.

Abathur Khamas (pictured) raped a woman twice in her hotel bathroom upstairs from the pub after they met at the bar

Abathur Khamas (pictured) raped a woman twice in her hotel bathroom upstairs from the pub after they met at the bar

CCTV showed him enter the pub with two friends and bought the woman, whom he had not met, a drink and the pair shook hands as they introduced themselves.

The victim met Khamas’ two other male friends and the group played on the pub’s pokie room.

She invited them to her hotel room upstairs where they drank and took cocaine while playing loud music.

But Khamas took advantage of the situation and raped her twice while they were alone in the bathroom between 3.20 and 3.30am.

The woman kicked him and one of his friends, who was not involved in the crime, out of her room, then texted her mother and called police.

He surprises the woman with a drink and the pair shake hands among introducing themselves to each other

He surprises the woman with a drink and the pair shake hands among introducing themselves to each other

Between 3.20 am and 3.30 am, Khamas raped her twice in her hotel bathroom (pictured) after he invited him and his friends upstairs to keep drinking

Between 3.20 am and 3.30 am, Khamas raped her twice in her hotel bathroom (pictured) after he invited him and his friends upstairs to keep drinking

Khamas maintained his innocence but was found guilty of two counts of rape in May 2019. He was controversially freed on bail for five months until sentencing. 

Crossroads is the oldest pub in the Liverpool area, built in the 1830s, and given a big renovation in 2017 to make it more upmarket.

Mr Marlow rakes in huge cash from the pub’s pokies, which was in the top five highest gaming room earners in July to December 2019. 

He was early on the scene in NSW when pubs were allowed to install 30 poker machines from 1997. He bought Crossroads in 2011.

Even people who don’t live in the area and have never been there would be familiar with Crossroads as the huge hotel is a visible landmark on the way into Sydney.

Crossroads (pictured in the 1800s) is the oldest pub in the Liverpool area, built in the 1830s

Crossroads (pictured in the 1800s) is the oldest pub in the Liverpool area, built in the 1830s

Thirty-eight cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious

Thirty-eight cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious

Before Sydney’s motorways were built, directions to get anywhere often involved ‘go past Crossroads’.

The pub’s popularity and status as a working class traveller’s watering hole made it the ideal epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak.

Forty-five cases have so far been linked to the pub, including an 18-year-old bartender who interacted with hundreds of customers while infectious. 

Health authorities confirmed the cluster was linked to the outbreak enveloping Victoria and was carried there by a traveller from Victoria. 

The Melbourne man went to a workplace in Sydney, which has since had confirmed cases, before all employees went to a party at Crossroads on July 3. 

The man travelled between Victoria and NSW on June 30 and worked in the freight industry. Six of his coworkers have tested positive.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk