The Northern Territory government has released a principles-based roadmap to removing COVID-19 restrictions.

Restrictions will be peeled back in three stages, beginning on 1 May at noon.

However, hospitality businesses will have to wait until at least 15 May to start the process of reopening. In stage two, restaurants, cafes and food courts will be able to offer dine-in service again, while bars, sports and RSL clubs will be allowed to trade so long as alcohol is only consumed alongside food. Gaming activities will still be on the list of banned activities and patrons can only attend venues for two hours at time.

While this stage is expected to commence at 12pm on Friday 15 May, the Northern Territory Government will confirm when it is safe to go ahead.

The same goes for stage three, which will also be implemented only when the government decides it is safe to do so. Currently, it’s earmarked for Friday 5 June and will see restrictions on gaming and consuming alcohol without food lifted.

The government has created steps to help businesses restart while managing safety responsibilities around coronavirus. All venues must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to show they are set up to meet requirements around key principle such as physical distancing and hygiene practices.

Operators will need to understand the government’s guidelines and complete an online checklist, after which they will be able to begin planning to reopen on 15 May by rostering staff, taking bookings and ordering from suppliers. Health officials will make compliance checks.

The government’s guidelines for food businesses cover ways to protect individuals; food handler hygiene; entrance to store; physical distancing; cleaning and disinfecting; reusable cups and containers’ self-service cutlery and condiments; physical barriers; rubbish disposal; takeaway and delivery service; and payments.

All food outlets are required to take extra precautions, with the same principles applying to indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the “new normal” will be in place for the foreseeable future. “The whole idea is to get your lives as close as normal to possible without putting you at risk,” Mr Gunner said. “That is why we are making changes that are sustainable, built to last for as long as we need them.

“By doing this in stages we can do it once and get it right. Spreading the risk out, managing it, reducing it.”

The Northern Territory currently has 30 cases of COVID-19, 25 of which have recovered.

Image: NT News

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