The Northern Territory has continued to ease its tough COVID-19 restrictions — allowing pubs, gyms, cafes and nail salons to reopen with extra hygiene measures and two-hour time limits in place.
- Roughly 175,000L of beer has been delivered to the Northern Territory in the last week
- Chief Minister Michael Gunner said about 3,000 people were getting back to work
- He also said pubs had been closed for 53 days and “you’ve all deserved that beer”
Darwin proprietor Jason Hanna owns several eateries across the Top End including The Deck Bar, Chow, Lazy Susan’s and Good Times Bar & Grill.
Mr Hanna has been up since 3:00am trying to get some of his restaurants ready to reopen at midday and expects Territorians to come out en masse to support local businesses and quench their thirst.
“I think I might not have ordered enough beer [although] we’ve got buckets of corona on special all day, just to dig it in,” he said.
“We’ve got our poor brethren down in places like New South Wales that are allowed to have 10 people in a venue, here we can have 10 people on one table.
Territorians ‘deserved’ a drink
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was excited about the 3,000 people who were back at work on Friday.
Industry peak body Hospitality NT said about 450 food and drink venues reopened across the Territory, with more expected to open on June 5 in the third stage of restrictions easing.
Mr Gunner thanked Territorians for listening to health advice and making the NT the “safest place in Australia”.
Shenannigans, one of the bars on Darwin’s popular drinking mile Mitchell Street, booked out completely by opening time at midday.
Sydneysider Charlotte Dubois was among the first to the bar.
She said she’d been in Darwin six weeks and due to coronavirus, this was her first chance at a pint in the Top End town.
Bruce Masters said he finished up work early to be at the pub when it opened.
“The plan for today is to enjoy socialising.
“What the boss doesn’t know doesn’t hurt him.”
‘There’s enough beer here’
Lincoln Jenkins is the Northern Territory sales manager at Carlton and United Breweries.
Roughly 175,000 litres of beer have been delivered to the Northern Territory in the last week and Mr Jenkins assured Territorians there would definitely be enough tap beer to last the weekend.
“There’s enough beer here for what we think is the next two to three weeks.”
Mr Jenkins said the NT was the “envy of the rest of the country” as pubs reopened and thousands of hospitality workers returned to work.
‘Don’t drink and drive’
While NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker said it was an “exciting day” for the Territory, but he also warned drivers to be safe on the roads.
Commissioner Chalker said there would be a strong police presence in busy centres and parks — and motorists could expect random breath tests.
“We really don’t want to see a spike in the road toll, and we certainly don’t want to see a spike in poor road behaviour,” he said.
NT Chief Health Officer Hugh Heggie, who joined Commissioner Chalker on a patrol down Mitchell St on Friday afternoon, said most people were doing the right thing.
“The pleasure though this time of the year, when Darwin is such a lovely place to be, and in a premises here, to see people, families, friends, work colleagues in their bubbles, social networks together,” he said.
“I can see the enthusiasm and I hope people behave responsibly.