A beer keg convoy is heading to the Northern Territory as the region prepares to reopen licensed venues after COVID-19 shutdown.
“This is the first truck of many on its way to the Northern Territory,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said from outside Darwin’s Carlton United Breweries.
“There’s a beer keg convoy rolling up the Stuart Highway with 175,000 litres of the good stuff, but what excites me most is the jobs coming back online.
CUB NT sales manager Lincoln Jenkin told The Australian: “I think there’ll be some excitement around on that first day. You can just about taste that cold beer now. But I think it will be a gradual, slow-burn from there.”
On Friday, May 15, stage-two restrictions are expected to be eased, meaning people can visit licensed venues for a maximum of two hours.
Territorians will be allowed to operate and attend bars, pubs, sports or RSL clubs (alcohol allowed with the consumption of food). However, gaming activities will not be permitted and strict social distancing rules will still apply.
Meanwhile, Lion has organised about 75,000 litres of draught to arrive in beer kegs in the NT over the coming week.
Lion Australia Managing Director James Brindley said: “The first time you’re back at your local might be different to what you’re used to. You’ll have to sit, eat a meal, and stay for only a set period of time. This is all about keeping everyone safe.
“But the one thing that we guarantee to be exactly the same is the taste of fresh XXXX GOLD on tap. It simply cannot be beaten.”
Gunner announced his three-stage approach to easing restrictions last week.
“Today we make our first steps on the road to recovery,” he said.
“Because we are the safest place in Australia, we can do this before the rest of Australia.”
The easing of restrictions is expected to restore thousands of jobs in the scuffling hospitality sector.
“We had to ask a lot of businesses to shut down and now they’re getting ready to reopen,” Gunner said.
“My challenge to all Territorians is to get out and support those local businesses.
“They need you to buy from them. Get a beer and a parmy, that’s the order.”
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said more than 600 Territory businesses had uploaded coronavirus compliance forms, a short checklist submitted to the NT Government to show how they plan to keep patrons safe, as of Friday morning.
Fyles also confirmed there remain two active cases of coronavirus in the NT.