The Armidale community revelled in glorious spring weather on its first day of post-lockdown freedom last Saturday, and police are emphatic that it deserves to be congratulated.
Not one Public Infringement Notice (PIN) was issued in Armidale, and only 20 were issued across the entire New England policing district - less than half those issued the weekend prior. Of these, 14 were issued in Moree, four in Inverell, and one each in Tingha and Mungindi.
"There were lots of people out and about in pubs enjoying the taste of alcoholic beverages again, but there were only a couple of incidents where police were called out because of long lines outside of premises," acting inspector at Armidale Police station, Matt Harmer, said.
"Everyone was very well behaved considering how many people were out. The Wicklow and White Bull hotels were very full on Saturday night, and the St Kilda had good numbers for its early opening."
A/Insp Harmer said all public health rules were adhered to, with all patrons seated, spaced, and wearing masks when required.
"The venues had COVID-19 marshalls patrolling, and people had to put their masks back on if they were not drinking," he said.
"There were no issues at all in Armidale. There was a punch up in one of the pubs in Inverell and some licensing breaches in Moree, but overall it was very good."
Police will continue to ensure the community does the right thing, A/Insp Harmer said, including wearing masks at indoor venues if aged over 12, continuing to social distance, and sticking to the limits when socialising.
"Only five people aged over 12 are allowed to gather at a private residence, and that includes outside," A/Insp Harmer said.
"If meeting outdoors at a public venue, it is limited to 20 people."
While local pub's bars were full, the cafes and restaurants had a mixed response to the end of lockdown. The manager of the Tattersalls Hotel said after a booking bonanza when the end of lockdown was announced; many didn't follow through.
Business wasn't as robust as Alison Herbst had anticipated.
"By 11.15am on Thursday, we were getting bookings," she said.
"And we opened the entire hotel on Saturday, but to be honest, we thought it would be busier than it was; I think it is still very much an unknown.
"But it was great to be open again and to have staff back in. Everyone was on a real high."
With accommodation a large part of the venue's recently renovated business model, border closures, and the ongoing lockdown in Sydney continues to affect business Ms Herbst said.
"Our business won't get back on track completely until Sydney gets out of lockdown," she said.
"Our accommodation dropped off as soon as Sydney went into lockdown, and while we have had one room open throughout lockdown, and we have started to get bookings, it is not looking like it will start to come back until mid-October."
And for now, the hotel's restaurants and bars will only be open for five days each week.
"We'd like to have the hotel open seven days a week, but at this stage, we will just open Wednesday through to Sunday until we see how it pans out," Ms Herbst said.
"If we get one COVID-19 case, we're into another snap lockdown as well, which is tough. We are luckier than some, though, because we use local suppliers, and last time they were very understanding with taking back produce."
The difficulty of switching on and off at short notice when dealing with perishable goods meant some local cafes did not open on the weekend. Altitude Coffee could not get supplies from its providore in time, so it did not open until Monday.
SeeSaw Cafe did open on the weekend, and owner Rosie Barnett said business was back but not booming.
"It was better than the takeaway only business has been, but it wasn't any busier than a normal Saturday pre lockdown," she said of the day's trade.
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