While the rest of the country lays out a staggered and staged return to normality, the Northern Territory is getting ready to celebrate its newfound status as “the safest place in Australia”.

On Friday, the territory’s premier – albeit only – newspaper The NT Times heralded the Top End’s reopening of pubs as a “historic day”.

“For the first time in 53 days Territorians can go back to the pub from midday for a few beers and a chicken schnitty (without a stupid 10-person rule). Why? Because we’re the safest place in Australia,” its editors crowed from its front page, putting its proclivity for crocodiles, snakes and storms aside for a minute.

If the picture of a stein over-floweth with beer didn’t tip you off, perhaps the inclusion of a 16-page wrap of the best territory pubs and cut-out coasters speaks to just how totemic bars and pubs are in Australian society.

Promising to use the day to “rub salt into the wounds of peasant southerners”, this is how the Northern Territory’s restrictions now differ to the rest of the country.

Northern Territory

From midday on Friday 15 May, most Northern Territory businesses will be able to reopen including pubs, restaurants, cafes, massage parlours, nail salons and yoga studios.

Unlike in other states, there isn’t a restriction on how many patrons a venue can hold, although they will still be required to buy a meal and will be ejected after two hours to make room for the next wave of punters.

New South Wales

Watering holes in the first state can technically open from Friday but only if they meet certain strict stage one conditions. Unable to open bars alone, venues may do table service for to up to 10 diners at a time as long as each has ordered a meal. No gaming

In other words, it’s unlikely many pubs will reopen just yet, until they can serve a more substantial cohort.


After being criticised for lagging behind other states’ relaxing of rules, Victoria is about to kickstart an ambitious plan to reopen pubs, cafes and restaurants.

From June 1, cafes, restaurants and the dining sections of pubs will each be allowed to host a maximum of 20 patrons at a time.

“Just three weeks later, from 22 June, those patron limits will go up to 50, and in mid-July… we would look to move to 100 patrons per enclosed space,” Premier Andrews explained.

He also stressed that strict social distancing guidelines would remain in place, including 1.5 metre spacing, rigorous cleaning and a screening of staff to prevent symptomatic workers infecting customers.


Unlike others, the Sunshine state has made exceptions for those living in the outback with up to 20 people allowed in pubs, cafes and restaurant from Saturday. City pubs, cafes, and restaurants will meanwhile be able to serve 10 patrons, although like in New South Wales some are expected to remain closed until restrictions lift even further.

South Australia

No date has been set to reopen pubs with the state indicating it will wait until June to let patrons go back.

While cafes and restaurants can serve 10 people at a time in outdoor dining space but there’s to be no service of alcohol. Likewise, RSL halls can reopen but won’t allow bar or food service.

Western Australia

From Monday, Western Australian pubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed up to 20 patrons at a time to dine-in. Like elsewhere, they will be required to buy a meal and follow the one person per four square metre rule. Likewise, gaming remains prohibited.


Pubs and clubs will reopen for up to 10 people from Monday, again with a meal required to be ordered.


From Saturday, all pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed up to 10 patrons, with alcohol permitted to be served alongside a meal.