Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy. (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

The pubs reopen, while some airlines plan an ambitious return. But like most days during the pandemic, the news is mostly bad. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the coronavirus might never go away.

The pub opens… but not really

Yesterday, NSW announced that pubs and clubs, along with cafes and restaurants, would also be allowed to reopen, in a limited capacity, from tomorrow. And by limited, we mean, they won’t be anything like pubs as we know them.

Like restaurants, they’ll have to adhere to social distancing rules, and like restaurants, they’ll only be allowed to admit 10 patrons at a time, and only be able to provide table service alcohol with a meal. Pubs will also open, with restrictions, in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

But while venues have a green light, don’t expect regular dining anytime soon. Many will remain shut, because it just isn’t commercially viable to comply with the current restrictions.

And now for some bad news

As usual, there’s plenty of it. The WHO’s Mike Ryan floated the horrifying thought that COVID-19 may never be eradicated. Instead, he suggested it could become an endemic disease, like HIV, that sticks around forever. Of course, we’re still hanging out for a vaccine, but there’s good historical evidence that maybe we won’t get one.

And in a climate of disinformation, what happens if a vaccine does emerge, and half the population refuses to get it? That’s a scenario floated by The New York Times tech reporter Kevin Roose, who suggests that if we do get a vaccine, public health bodies could be in for a difficult information war against a resurgent, mobilised anti-vaxxer movement.

The world’s most expensive travel bill

A Senate inquiry yesterday revealed that Nev Power, the former mining executive running Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission, was getting $267,345 for six months of his trouble (it was initially said to be $500,000). Just money for travel and expenses apparently.

The Commission, which is intended to assist Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic, has faced criticism over its ties to oil and gas, a lack of transparency, and a membership drawn largely from the top of the corporate ladder.

Airlines start up again

As restrictions start to ease in Europe and Australia, a few airlines are getting off the ground. From May 21, you’ll be able to fly from Sydney or Melbourne to London on Emirates or Etihad — travel restrictions aside. Over in Europe, budget carrier Ryanair, notorious for cramming in passengers like cattle, wants to restart 40% of its flights by July. To combat risks of infection, passengers will have to take temperature tests, wear face masks, and ask permission to use the toilet.

If planes aren’t your jam, the cruise ship industry has, rather boldly, announced it’ll be taking advantage of the proposed trans-Tasman bubble from October. None of this means much, since Chief Medical Officers Brendan Murphy yesterday said he couldn’t foresee international travel returning for a long time. 

In other aviation news, the Queensland government announced it was bidding to buy Virgin Australia yesterday, to howls of outrage from Peter Dutton and News Corp.