Bartenders have relished being back at work after NSW COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Three new NSW virus cases as bars reopen

2020-05-17 16:31:33

Police have praised the overall restraint of NSW residents as coronavirus-prompted shutdowns of pubs, bars and restaurants were eased around the state.

Dining venues were from Friday able to take up to 10 patrons if they maintain social distancing, including alcohol table service with a meal at NSW pubs and clubs.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar told reporters on Saturday police would continue to work with venue proprietors as patrons return to their local haunts.

He admitted rainy conditions in Sydney on Friday night had suppressed the number of people seeking tables, with 10-person limits and distancing requirements easier to implement.

“We’ve got early feedback from our police on the ground there’s an acceptance conditions have been relaxed and there’s been compliance with the new conditions,” Mr Cassar said.

“We’re in a very positive situation with low numbers being recorded and just ask members of the community to continue to comply with those conditions.”

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 eateries.

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,” Ms Baichoo told AAP.

For The Rio’s operational manager Fabrizio Culici, pouring his first beer into a glass pint felt “phenomenal” after weeks of takeaways and deliveries.

“The sense of relief is just fantastic,” Mr Culici told AAP.

“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.”

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.

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 equipment, while outdoor pools are open with restrictions.

NSW recorded three new cases of coronavirus from 9000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, taking the state’s total to 3074 with six people in intensive care.

Two cases related to an overseas traveller in a quarantine hotel and a close contact of a known case in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, while the third case in western Sydney is still under investigation.

“We need vigilance and to make sure the sacrifice we’ve all endured in the past few months sees positive outcomes going forward,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard told reporters.

“Like all of us, the restaurateurs, the cafe owners are learning, I think citizens are learning – not everyone understands what social distancing is.

“(You should) treat everybody like they might have COVID-19.”

NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty warned the virus was still “bubbling underneath the surface” and urged people to get tested if they had any symptoms at all.

It’s particularly important in the Penrith area, NSW Health says, with Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown and Cumberland also areas of focus.