Today the Northern Territory government has announced that all licensed venues will be allowed to resume full trading in June, with restricted re-opening to commence on 15 May.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has just announced that licensed venues will be allowed to resume trading in a fortnight, as part of a three-stage roadmap “to take the Northern Territory to the new normal.” The roadmap is being enacted after the NT has had no new COVID-19 cases in three weeks.

“This is welcome news. We just want to crack on, open up and allow Territorians to enjoy a cold beer, great meal and punt with their mates,” stated Alex Bruce, CEO of HospitalityNT.

The first stage of the plan goes into effect tomorrow, focusing mainly on outdoor activities and visitors within the home. But the second stage, commencing on Friday 15 May, allows for the gradual re-opening of on-premise venues.

In stage two you can: operate and attend restaurants and cafes; and operate and attend a bar, sports or RSL club (alcohol allowed with the consumption of food), excluding gaming activities. However, all activities in the second stage are restricted to less than two hours.

However, in the final stage of the roadmap, all restrictions are lifted from venues. As part of the third stage, which commences on Friday 5 June, residents in the Northern Territory will be able to:

  • Operate all licenced gaming activities including a TAB.
  • Attend a bar without food being consumed.
  • Attend any cinema or theatre, concert hall, music hall, dance hall, nightclub or any other similar entertainment venue in approved configuration.
  • All businesses, facilities and services previously restricted can now resume ensuring adherence to key principles.

The Australian Hotels Association has welcomed the announcement, which is a great win for the territory’s pub industry.

“This is fantastic news for hoteliers and pub-goers in the Northern Territory. The nation will now have all eyes on the Territory moving forward as it leads the way in opening up the national economy,” stated AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the hard work of President Paul Palmer, CEO Alex Bruce and their team on this great common-sense result.”

Hospitality operators in the Northern Territory have been quick to praise the new roadmap, including Australian Venue Co CEO Paul Waterson, who earlier in the week called for clearer pathways from government in regards to re-opening.

“We commend and thank the Gunner Government. The industry is crying out for a process and pathway to re-opening again whilst maintaining social distancing rules and patron safety. We look forward to seeing similar plans from the other states and territories.”

Prior to resuming operation, all businesses will need to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. A guide will be made available to assist in the development of a tailored plan for each business.

The Northern Territory government has announced the roadmap with the proviso that if there is community transmission in the future, it will consider adjusting the Chief Health Officer directions and reinstate restrictions.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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