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Pubs & bars: what’s reopening around Australia

May 15, 2020
By Alana House

The Northern Territory has become the first region in Australia to reopen pubs, clubs and bars, with no restriction on the number of patrons allowed through the doors. Here’s the state of play with licensed venues reopening around the country.

Northern Territory

From noon today, licensed venues are open, but must serve patrons a meal.

Patrons will be given a two-hour window for in-house dining at pubs, cafes, restaurants, bars and RSL clubs. There is no restriction on the number of patrons, but gaming remains closed.

NT News

The NT News reports Territorians are expected to spend more than $4 million today as pubs, restaurants and cafes finally reopen, with about 3000 people returning to their jobs.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said: “Territorians deserve this,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to be the safest place in the nation which means we are the first in the nation to get back to business and back to work.

“We’ve got a long road ahead of us, but today marks the start of the Territory’s comeback.”


Pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen today in NSW, but only 10 patrons will be allowed inside each venue at a time.

“So, even if there’s multiple rooms or multiple facilities in a venue, it’s only up to 10 people in one venue,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian explained.

Bars and gaming facilities are closed, but table service for alcohol with a meal is allowed and takeaway services can continue.

Young Henrys

John Green, director of liquor and policing at the NSW Australian Hotels Association said some venues may decided its not viable to reopen yet.

“The longer this goes on there is every chance some will not open their doors again,” he said.

“Ten patrons isn’t many but it’s the first step in a long process getting trading back up and running.

Brodie Parish, from Kelly’s on King, in Newtown told SBS their licence requires them to have two security staff on the premises from 7pm – even if only 10 people are allowed in to eat.

“The bulk of trade would most likely be evening trade and fall into this period. The cost of security and staff would run at over $120 per hour,” she said, explaining their decision to keep doors closed.

However, Japanese restaurant Sokyo at The Star Sydney opened its doors with an invite-only event starting at 12.01am on Friday morning.

The 10 guests included Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox, Sydney City Councillor Christine Forster, former rugby league player Craig Wing and former NRL star Beau Ryan.


From tomorrow, dining is allowed at restaurants, cafes, pubs, registered and licensed clubs, RSL clubs and hotels in urban areas for a maximum of 10 patrons at one time.

Bars and gaming venues remain closed across the state.

Venues in outback and regional Queensland allowing up to 20 patrons inside restaurants and pubs at a time for locals only – proof of residence must be shown.

“Pubs and clubs are the heart and soul of communities right across our Sunshine State – but particularly in outback towns which have already been hit so hard by drought in recent years,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“We hope that by carefully relaxing some of the restrictions in these regions, we can start to rebuild our regional economies – and give everyone the morale boost they really need right now.”

XXXX free beer

XXXX is delivering free beer kegs to outback pubs and clubs preparing to reopen their doors this weekend.

If all goes well, restrictions will ease to allow pubs and eateries in cities a maximum of 20 patrons.


Victoria has no date set for the reopening of pubs, clubs, cafes or restaurants to in-house patrons.


Premier Daniel Andrews said: “The feedback from many businesses is that at just 10 patrons, it’s hard to be viable.”

I think takeaway will be a feature for a long time. If we can supplement and complement that with table service at more than 10, there’s every chance for a more viable model.”That’s our thinking.”

Asked on Monday if people could get on the beers, Andrews said: “No, they cannot.

“There will be a time for that, and no one will enjoy making that announcement more than me, let me assure you of that,” he said. “There might even be props involved.”

South Australia

South Australia has not set a date for the reopening of pubs. Cafes and restaurants are allowed to have 10 people dining outdoors, but alcohol is not allowed.

Bars and pubs are expected to reopen by early to mid-June.

Premier Steven Marshall said: “If people are going to go along to a pub, if they just want to have a beer they’re going to have to do it seated down at a table, so that we can monitor all that social distancing.”

Western Australia

A maximum of 20 patrons will be allowed for in-house dining at pubs, bars, community clubs, hotels and the casino from Monday, May 18.

However alcohol can only be served with a meal and gaming remains off-limits.

Some WA pubs say it’s not economically viable to open for just 20 patrons and will be keeping their doors shut.

Three Pound Group general manager Tim McLernon, who runs The Camfield, Stables and The Reveley told WA Today the risk was that by opening with such heavy restrictions, venues might lose more money than they were now by staying closed.

“Small husband and wife operations in the suburbs, that are already doing takeaway, might benefit from this early stage openings,” he said. “For almost everyone it will not be about making a profit by opening – it will be a way of reducing the loss you are making every week.”


Pubs will reopen in Tasmania from Monday, with up to 10 patrons allowed inside for seated dining and a drink at pubs, clubs, hotels and RSLs.

Bars and gaming facilities remain closed.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association chief executive Steve Old said while that was positive, many pubs with eateries would have to remain shut because the limit would see them struggle to make ends meet.


From Saturday, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and bars will be reopening in the ACT, with a 10-person limit at each venue and pubs and bars only allowed sell alcohol if it it accompanies a meal.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said: “Local hospitality businesses are encouraged to only reopen if the model works for them. Choosing to remain takeaway-only for now will have no impact on their ability to consider reopening as the maximum seated occupancy increases in the coming months.”

Walsh’s Hotel co-owner Michael Bagley told The Canberra Times the pub will have two seatings per night to maximise the number of customers.

“We’ve had people ringing up for bookings,” he said. “It won’t make us a huge amount of money but it’s more about looking after the locals. I know from feedback that we’ll be flat out as soon as we reopen.”

Expert analysts: why bars should reopen

Two Australian professors have weighed the economic cost of restrictions on licensed venues and concluded pubs and bars should reopen.

Jonathan Karnon, Professor of Health Economics, Flinders University, and Ben Mol, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University, have told The Conversation why they believe bars should reopen.

They say the government’s support to the hospitality industry is costing $1.7 billion per week, which would reduce to $1.1billion if bars and restaurants were open.

Click here to read their analysis.

Pictured main: Pig N Whistle Riverside, Brisbane.

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