Pubs today were allowed to open again under Alert Level 2 restrictions, weeks after the pandemic forced them shut.
It comes a week later after restaurants and cafes re-opened, and the excitement today was palpable from the industry and customers alike.
In Northland’s Mangonui Pub, locals who’d been meeting there for decades were happy to have their first beers in weeks.
“All our friends are here … service is brilliant,” one local said of the Level 2 guidelines which meant people had to wait for a server instead of getting up to make an order. The guideline aimed to keep people from different groups from interacting with one another.
“[I] come in here and have a couple of beers with my buddies here. It’s awesome,” another said.
Mangonui Hotel owner Bowden O’Leary said the pub was a place for “a lot of the community” to “come have a yarn”.
Alert Level 2 has also meant bars have been told to set up socially distanced tables and keep a record of who comes in.
For Northland’s Tuatua Tavern, it meant having to make some changes.
“We've had to spend some money on our outdoor area so we can fit and space out our people to meet the guidelines,” owner Eddie Ballas said.
At the Auckland’s Fiddler Irish Bar, owner Colm Cummins said live music will be turned down so people don’t have to lean in to talk.
In Rotorua, Ruck ‘n’ Maul owner Henry Mitchall was offering discounts.
“We wanna do discounts, especially for locals and the tourism industry at the moment because they’re finding it hard,” he said.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today urged bar and pub-goers to exert caution.
“Do have fun if you are heading out to a bar or pub in the coming days. But do support the staff by ensuring that you do so from your seat and you’re within your small group.”
Dr Bloomfield said the re-opening of hospitality joints should not be “compromising the gains we have already made with Covid-19”.
He said people should continue to limit interaction between different groups of customers and staff.
Under Alert Level 2 rules, no dancing or mingling is allowed in bars, pubs and clubs.
Police said they would be patrolling bars, and publicans caught breaching Alert Level 2 rules could face a fine or be shut down.