Eager beer lovers flocked to the pubs and delighted landlords flung upon their doors as coronavirus restrictions were finally lifted in the Northern Territory on Friday.
The territory hasn’t recorded a single new case of deadly COVID-19 since April 6, nearly six weeks ago.
Territorians were keen to celebrate their successful battle against the virus, and flocked to pubs, restaurants, cafes and gyms.
From midday on Friday, most businesses in the Northern Territory were allowed to reopen, but punters still have to buy food if they want to drink in a pub or restaurant.
But unlike other states, there are no restrictions of how many people can be allowed into a venue, with officials simply imposing a two-hour limit.
In Victoria and South Australia, people still aren’t allowed to have a beer in a pub or restaurant.
Tourism manager Kate Dinning (pictured) is seen enjoying her first beer after lockdown ended in the Northern Territory on Friday (pictured in Darwin)
Friends are seen enjoying the first day back in the pub in the Northern Territory at the Darwin Hotel (pictured) on Friday after restrictions were eased
A publican drinks a beer after coronavirus restrictions were eased, in Darwin on May 15 (pictured) after weeks of forced closures
A group of mates are seen enjoying their first beers in weeks at the Darwin Hotel on Friday (pictured) after the state smashed the coronavirus infection curve
With restrictions eased for the first time since March 23, excited Sky News reporter Matt Cunningham took his first sip live on air at Darwin’s Beachfront Hotel.
‘It’s been a long time coming and it tastes pretty good,’ he told the camera.
‘That might be the first of many this afternoon.’
He was followed by the NT’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who poured his first beer at midday and said: ‘I think I’ve earned one and I think I lot of Territorians out there have earned a beer as well.’
There was similar excitement in much of the country on Friday, with restrictions eased in most states after Australia flattened its coronavirus infection curve.
The same couldn’t be said for those living in Victoria, who have still been given no indication as to when its businesses can reopen.
Two friends are seen enjoying a large glass of white wine as they went to the Chow restaurant in Darwin on Friday (pictured)
Mates are seen waiting for their meals – which you have to purchase in order to get a drink – as they enjoyed the first day back in the pub at the Darwin Hotel on Friday (pictured)
A group of women are seen enjoying drinks as they wait for their food at the Darwin Hotel on Friday (pictured) as restrictions were lifted
It is being left up to each state to decide when the federal government’s three-step coronavirus restriction lifting plan will be put into place.
In New South Wales, restaurants, bars and cafes were allowed to open on Friday with a ten-person limit and social distancing.
Punters also need to buy a meal to get alcohol.
The decision is a huge boost for regional towns where the pub is the only place locals can eat out.
But bigger pubs in Sydney and other cities may feel that opening up for ten customers is not worth the trouble financially.
Women are seen in their droves getting their nails done for the first time since March 23 at Cre8tive Nails in Darwin (pictured) on Friday
A couple are seen dressed up and enjoying beers and prosecco outside the Darwin Hotel on Friday (pictured) after restrictions were lifted
A group of mates enjoy food and some beers – including a Corona – at Monsoons Bar in Darwin on Friday (pictured) for the first time in weeks
Hospitality giant Merivale confirmed it would stick to operating on a takeaway-only policy until restrictions were eased further.
In Queensland, thirsty customers will be able to go to pubs, clubs and RSLs for a drink as long as they also buy a meal from Saturday.
In Brisbane, venues can only have ten customers at one time, but in other regions 20 people are allowed.
A truck carrying 3,000 litres of free beer, donated by XXXX, is already on its way to outback Queensland.
While other states have started to relax the rules, cafes and restaurants in Victoria will continue to be restricted to takeaway.
Darwin Hotel venue manager Penny Phillips (pictured in white) talks to police in Darwin on Friday (pictured) after restrictions were eased
A woman is seen getting her nails done at Cre8tive Nails in Darwin on Friday (pictured) after salons were given the green light to reopen
A man enjoys a beer at the Cavenaugh Hotel in Darwin (pictured) on Friday after pubs, restaurants and cafes were opened across the Northern Territory
This is expected to be the case until at least the start of June.
In South Australia, pubs are staying closed for the time-being, with cafes and restaurants open – but not serving alcohol, even if you buy a meal.
Customers, a maximum of ten, must sit outdoors.
In the ACT from midnight on Friday, pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes can all serve alcohol as long as customers buy a meal.
Only ten customers are allowed at any one time, and social distancing must be enforced.
People sit at Six Tanks Brewery on Mitchell St on Friday in Darwin (pictured) after punters excitedly rushed back to pubs
A group of ten incredibly eager Irish mates (pictured) paid $1,000 to have The Corner House Hotel in Bondi to themselves on Friday, after COVID-19 restrictions were eased in New South Wales
The first three slots at the Corner House in Bondi (pictured) for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were gone in just seven minutes, while a further eight slots – including some weekday sessions – went within hours
In Tasmania, pubs and restaurants will be able to serve alcohol with meals from Monday, with a maximum of ten customers allowed and table service only.
Restrictions are also easing in Western Australia from Monday, with pubs, clubs and even Perth’s casino serving drinks with meals.
A maximum of 20 customers will be allowed at one time.
More than 4,000 people have put their names down on the waitlist at one Bondi pub, so desperate are Australians to get a taste of pre-COVID-19 normality.
Like many of its counterparts across Australia, The Corner House Hotel had to put its staff on jobkeeper and ask for a rent reduction, with its business ended by the strict lockdown.
Ben Siderowitz (pictured), who owns Bondi’s Corner House, said that the pub had 4,000 on a waiting list for a slot at the pub
These three women were excited to share a pizza and a glass of wine at Bondi Beach on Friday (pictured) after restrictions were eased
A long lunch was in order for some office workers in Sydney’s CBD, who enjoyed a drink and some Asian food at Dumpling Bar restaurant (pictured) on Friday
But after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a slight lifting of restrictions at cafes, restaurants and pubs from 12am Friday, the hotel’s owner Ben Siderowitz had an idea to get people back in the door.
At the cost of $100-a-head, 10 friends could book out the entire pub to themselves and in return get a $1,000 bar tab, a private bartender and unlimited woodfired pizza.
The first three slots for Friday, Saturday and Sunday were gone in just seven minutes, while a further eight slots – including some weekday sessions – went within hours.
A group of ten incredibly eager Irish friends snapped up the first of the extra slots and began sipping on schooners on Friday at midday.
Mr Siderowitz said he could not believe the enormous reaction to his idea, which has since been copied by pubs and restaurants across the city – with the response much the same.
While some pubs have taken the first opportunity to let patrons back inside, others such as The Livingstone in Petersham (pictured) have kept their doors and windows firmly shut – at least for the time being
The Crown Hotel in Surry Hills (pictured) was among those not to embrace the lifting of restrictions, with locks still on its doors on Friday
‘I haven’t slept in four days. I had to put up an out of office email so the notifications would stop, because they were coming day and night,’ The Corner House boss told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I didn’t even think I was doing anything revolutionary, but everyone is just so thirsty and desperate to get out of the house.
‘We started with just Friday and Saturday nights, and a Sunday session and thought: “Let’s see if we can get three booked out”. Well, they went within seven minutes.
‘Now we’ve got seven days booked out, with double slots on four of those days and a further 4,000 people who have put their names down on the wait list if restrictions are eased further.’
Bel and Brio in Barangaroo, Sydney, is booked out for the next week, with more than 160 keen customers desperate to get a sitting.
So eager were those in the Northern Territory to get back to the pub, queues formed outside some venues on Friday morning (pictured)
The restaurant’s event manager Mylene Selosse said the slight relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions is a major boost for the business, who had transitioned to a takeaway service.
‘We’ve been receiving a lot of bookings which is great, we’re actually fully booked out until next week,’
‘We didn’t shut our doors for the past month, we developed an online service, so for us right now it doesn’t make much difference to our kitchen and staff’s (workload) – it is just a plus for us to have ten people in here.’
‘At this stage there’s 160 people booked, so that’s 160 people we otherwise wouldn’t have served.
‘We need to take it slowly, but right now we are seeing restrictions changing every two weeks or so. So hopefully in two weeks we can have 20 people in here to serve!’
Long-time Bronte locals Jack (pictured, left) and Geoff (right) were happy to be able to once again sit at their regular cafe, which they said they would easily visit twice a day pre-COVID-19 pandemic
Ljubo Milicevic, manager of north Bondi cafe Porch and Parlour (pictured), said only being able to have 10 people sit down for a meal meant it was not worth them reverting from the takeaway operation they have mastered over the past few months
While some businesses have embraced ‘Freedom Friday’, others were slow to get on board and will wait until next week to return to internal dining.
Ljubo Milicevic, manger of north Bondi cafe Porch and Parlour, said only being able to have 10 people sit down for a meal is not worth it for their bottom line.
‘As far as us being a smaller cafe, our capacity isn’t great so it doesn’t really benefit us to only having 10 people at any one time, in or outside the venue,’ Mr Milicevic said.
‘We’re lucky, we can operate as a takeaway venture, whereas for wine bars and restaurants it’s all about the experience of sitting in.
‘All our friends at business up the road are fully booked out tonight, which is good for them and good for us, because we’ve got somewhere to go.
‘It’s nice that things seem to be getting back to more of a normality, I think life for everyone is going to be more peaceful now – with less fear in the air.’
While they could have sat down inside elsewhere, dozens queued to get a coffee at the popular Iggy’s Bread cafe in Bronte on Friday morning
Leading Sydney chef Bret Cameron, who runs Three Blue Ducks in Bronte, said they had also decided to wait until next week before allowing patrons to dine-in.
He admitted that despite diversifying his business to offer takeaway or cook at home meals, the past few months had been incredible difficult – especially as the ‘goal posts continue to move’.
‘For us, we’re already doing takeaways, so putting seats outside isn’t adding any kind of pressure, but we’re not doing table service,’ Mr Cameron said.
‘From next week we’ll be opening for groups of 10, but we just weren’t ready today. I want to do it right and the goal posts are always moving, so we’ll take out time over the weekend and bring back internal dining from Monday.
‘It’s been tough, it’s been really tough. We’ve got our same core group of staff as we have had for the past few months and we’ll begin to bring some back who have been on jobkeeper.’
AUSTRALIA’S THREE STEP PLAN TO ENDING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
* Five visitors allowed at home
* Gatherings of up 10 in business and public places
* Work from home if it works for you and your employer
* Small restaurants, cafes and shopping open
* Home sales and in-person auctions resume
* Children back in classrooms
* Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and outdoor boot camps open
* Local and regional travel resume
* Gatherings of 20 people in your home, business and public places
* Work from home if it works for you and your employer
* Gyms, beauty, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks open with COVID-safe plans
* Organised community sport allowed
* Caravan and camping grounds reopen
* Some interstate travel
* States and territories may allow larger numbers in some circumstances
* Gatherings of up to 100 people
* Return to workplaces
* Pubs, clubs, nightclubs, food courts, saunas and some gaming venues open
* All interstate travel resumes
* Consider cross-Tasman, Pacific island and international students travel
* States and territories may allow larger numbers in some circumstances