01/05/2020 12:45 PM AEST | Updated 01/05/2020 3:29 PM AEST

Coronavirus In Australia: Pubs Sessions, Date Nights To Return As The Northern Territory Ends Virus Restrictions

“May 15 date night, June 5 Sunday sesh.”

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(Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia has recorded at least 6,762 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 92 people have died.

More than 3.2 million cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 227,000 people have died from it. More than 570,000 tests have been conducted across Australia.

Here’s what is happening with coronavirus in Australia today: 

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(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

1. Pubs Sessions, Date Nights To Return As The Northern Territory Ends Virus Restrictions

The Northern Territory will lift all social distancing restrictions by June as it has recorded no cases of coronavirus for three weeks ― the first state or territory in Australia to detail how it plans to restart its local economy.

Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said on Thursday.

Social gathering limitations for non-contact sport, weddings and funerals will be lifted on Friday.

Restrictions on restaurants and pubs will be eased in mid-May and all remaining restrictions removed on June 5.

“May 15 date night, June 5 Sunday sesh (pub session),” Gunner told reporters in Darwin. 

Gunner said the Northern Territory was easing restrictions after recording no new cases of coronavirus for three weeks.

“Being the safest in the nation means being the first in the nation to get back on track,” Gunner said earlier in a speech announcing the easings of restrictions.

“Back to business, back to work, back to enjoying the great Territory lifestyle.”

The NT has recorded only 28 cases of coronavirus, with all but three now recovered.  


From Friday, locals in the NT will be permitted to begin non-contact outdoor sports as long as they can keep 1.5 metres apart. Outdoor weddings and funerals, which have been curtailed to no more than 10 guests, will also be free from limits, Gunner said.

Gunner said from May 15, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen, though the number of customers will be limited and no patron can remain for more than two hours.

Any pub that reopens on May 15 must serve food, Gunner said.

Finally, all restrictions will be removed on June 5, which will also allow cinemas and nightclubs to reopen.

NSW, which has almost half the national coronavirus cases, will ease some social gathering restrictions on Friday with two people allowed to visit another household with children, while beaches like Sydney’s famous Bondi, have been reopened.

With NSW reporting just two new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under growing pressure to accelerate the easing of curbs.

But she has urged locals to remain patient, highlighting an outbreak in an aged care facility in the west of Sydney where 12 people have died.

David Gray / Reuters
Aircraft from Australia's second largest airline, Virgin Australia, sit on the tarmac at the domestic terminal of Sydney Airport in Australia, August 19, 2018. Picture taken August 19, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

2. Virgin Australia Has 20 Potential Buyers, Deal Seen By June

Virgin Australia administrators said they had given eight potential buyers access to a data room and were negotiating with another 12 about doing so as they seek to sell the country’s second-biggest airline by end-June.

In an update after a first meeting of creditors owed nearly A$7 billion, administrators from Deloitte Australia said they had appointed Morgan Stanley to run the sales process alongside Houlihan Lokey.

The administrators were appointed this month to restructure and sell Virgin, the Asia-Pacific airline industry’s biggest victim of the coronavirus crisis so far.

The potential buyers that have signed non-disclosure agreements have received access to a data room, Deloitte said in a statement.

“In terms of next steps, mid-May is currently the timeframe for the receipt of indicative offers,” administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said. “Binding offers will then be required in June. We remain confident that our target of achieving a sale by the end of June is achievable.”

3. A Return For Sport? 

The Australian government will meet on Friday to discuss how sport can restart as the number of new coronavirus cases dwindles.

“The agenda includes the principles for sport and other recreational activities,” one source familiar with the cabinet agenda told Reuters.

Coronavirus has shredded the global sporting calendar including, putting top European soccer leagues and the National Basketball Association on hold, and forced the delay of the Olympics.

The sporting suspensions have left some codes under mounting financial pressures as revenues run dry and television networks push to renegotiate rights deals.

NRL, which was interrupted after two rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said earlier this week it will resume a 20-round competition on May 28, though it still requires government permission to restart.