Group bookings of more than 10 people will not be permitted.


“Managing the workload is twice as much work because we have to sanitise everything, everyone has to remain seated and they have to be signed in, and keeping their distance – the workload is massive,” Mr Maguire said. “But we’re happy to do it – anything to be open.”

For many of the customers, it’s the first time they’ve been able to catch up with their friends. Leti Assada said she’s missed coming to her local pub.

“It’s nice to be able to socialise, especially being a first-time mum,” she said.

Other pubs and bars are still planning how they will reopen, with owners warning it won’t be business as usual.

One of Sydney’s oldest pubs, The Fortune of War, is planning to open its doors in The Rocks on Thursday, but owner Steven Speed said they’ve reduced the food and drinks menu and implemented a COVID-19 safety plan.

The Fortune of War in The Rocks will reopen on Thursday.Credit:Louise Kennerley

“[The reopening is] positive, but it’s going to be tough,” said Mr Speed.

While the pub can usually host 150 people, only 44 customers will be allowed in at the same time, to ensure social distancing measures can be met.

Despite the challenges, Mr Speed said he was looking forward to welcoming people through the door again.

“It’s going to be great to see a smile on their faces,” he said.

The pub, like many others, has only not been able to source all the beers they usually offer, with breweries unprepared for the easing of restrictions.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was vital that both businesses and patrons follow health and safety guidelines.

“We need to accept life will be different until we have an effective treatment or a vaccine,” Mr Hazzard said. “Everyone should maintain physical distancing and practise good hygiene, and if even the mildest symptoms present, such as a sore throat or runny nose, get yourself tested.”

Police are also working to ensure people continue to obey social distancing measures under the easing of restrictions, particularly in regional areas, through Operation Pariac which was announced on Monday.

Operation Pariac Commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said: “From today, the movement of people across the state will start to increase dramatically, as thousands of people head to regional communities to inject much-needed tourism dollars.

“Whether you’re heading to a winery in the Hunter Valley, a bar at Byron Bay, a pub on the bushfire-hit South Coast, or an RSL in drought-impacted areas out west – licensees and patrons alike need to be aware of their surroundings and the strict rules which now apply.”

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Laura is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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