'Phenomenal' Feeling As Pubs And Restaurants Begin To Re-Open

This weekend sees the reopening of some pubs and restaurants and the imminent return to classrooms, but Australians are being warned to heed health advice.

People have started returning to pubs, cafes and bars following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions in NSW.

Bartenders have relished the "phenomenal" feeling of pouring a beer into a glass pint and diners have embraced a glimmer of normality as NSW restaurants and bars reopened after an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

The state's restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs are now able to have up to 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing after the NSW government wound back several restrictions from Friday.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned COVID-19 case numbers will inevitably rise as rules are eased, but punters on Friday seemed comfortable returning to their favourite bars and eateries.

Valentin Pellet, host at Claire's Kitchen in Darlinghurst, chats to diners in his restaurant on May 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Image: Getty Images

In Sydney's inner west, Shannah Baichoo was among the first to return to popular Summer Hill bar The Rio, resuming what was once a regular Friday night ritual with her husband.

"It's like a signifier of life becoming normal again. It feels amazing," Baichoo told AAP.

Nearby, Lisa Polsek said visiting the bar offered a bit of normality but "baby steps" were important.

"The worst thing would be is if we all have to go back again," she said.

For The Rio's operational manager Fabrizio Culici, pouring his first beer into a glass pint felt "phenomenal" after weeks of take-aways and deliveries.

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"The sense of relief is just fantastic," Culici said.

"We just hope ... that this is certainly not going to be a short-lived thing and we go back to deliveries, because it's going to be very hard to survive if that happens."

A couple of doors down at The Temperance Society, co-owner Alex Fensham shared similar concerns about having to wind back again.

He welcomed having people back at the bar but said they were "pretty nervous" about opening trade for just 10.

"It took an enormous shift and it actually cost us a lot of money to shift at short notice from being a bar to a take-away," Fensham said. .

"We're all feeling pretty happy to have people in here now, but whether it actually works out financially, I don't know yet. It's worth a shot."

Under eased restrictions, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now permitted and up to five people, including children, can visit another NSW household.



Retail Reckoning: Why Shopping Malls Will Never Be The Same

With social restrictions starting to ease, shoppers are being warned that a trip to the local shopping centre is likely to change forever, with the pandemic forcing an overdue 'retail reckoning'.

Religious gatherings and places of worship can welcome up to 10 people, and 10 guests are also allowed at weddings, 20 at indoor funerals and 30 at outdoor funerals from Friday.

Outdoor equipment including gyms and playgrounds can now be used with caution, with people encouraged to wipe down the equipment, while outdoor pools are open with restrictions.

Yet authorities warn unwashed hands and crowding could bring it all to a halt.

COVID-19 cases at two McDonald's restaurants and a shopping centre in Melbourne, and a Queensland nursing home, show the virus is far from defeated, despite there only being 50 Australians battling it in hospital.



Raising The Barre: ScoMo's Three-Step Plan To Get Australia Off Slow Mo

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a three-step plan to get Australia back to "where we need to be as quickly as possible", with hopes most restrictions will be lifted by July.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the health and economic supports are in place to start easing restrictions.

"Now the task is to really build that confidence and to get that momentum going as we move to the next challenge, which is to reset the Australian economy for growth and to support Australians and their livelihoods well into the future."

Fewer than 700 Australians still have the virus out of 7019 cases, with the number of new cases hovering at 20 a day.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy says while there is a low level of the virus in the community, Australians still needed to be careful with their health and hygiene.

States and territories have begun the first stage of a three-stage process to lift restrictions on outdoor and indoor gatherings and business operations.

Morrison acknowledged some businesses would not be profitable having only 10 customers at a time.

"I want to commend them for that brave step that they're taking this weekend. Good on you for reopening."

National leaders are also talking up the prospect of domestic tourism restarting, as part of the next phase of waking up the economy.

The Australian Airports Association and Airlines for Australia & New Zealand convened a meeting of stakeholders this week to map out the industry's recovery.

"As these restrictions are eased in line with the government's three-step framework, the safe resumption of domestic travel is a goal shared by all in the travel and tourism sectors," the AAA's acting chief Simon Bourke said.

Many parents will be preparing this weekend for their children to return to classrooms.

Hospitals have also been given the green light for elective surgery, which will be brought back on stream over three stages according to varying state and territory timetables.

Mental health has not been ignored, with a $48.1 million response plan set to roll out in coming months, including research and support services.