Bars and restaurants in Auckland are flinging open their doors after more than three months in lockdown.
As of December 2 at 11.59pm, New Zealand has transitioned to the Covid-19 Protection Framework where more businesses can open and vaccinated Kiwis can enjoy more freedoms.
Auckland and other regions in the North Island with lower vaccination rates have entered the “red” setting, where hospitality venues are allowed to host up to 100 people if following vaccine requirements.
Irish pub Danny Doolans, in the Viaduct, was among the first to welcome customers back at midnight on Thursday, with a live band and 200 Irish whiskeys.
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Max Harbottle, 19, said he was keen to meet new people. He said he and his family were all double vaxxed and he wasn’t worried about Covid. His drink of choice – a vodka red bull.
Earlier, Good Spirits Hospitality spokeswoman Natalie Ayson said there was a “general excitement” as the team restocked fridges and prepared new menus for the reopening.
Capacity was capped at 100, but Ayson said “it’s just a different vibe” and was confident customers would enjoy dancing while seated around their tables.
She said Covid-19 guidelines would be followed and staff would be checking vaccine passes upon entry.
“We’re there to help … we want customers to have a great experience,” she said.
Soul Bar & Bistro manager Olivia Carter said staff had gone “crazy with bookings”, with Friday and the weekend booked out.
Carter said more staff would be on deck on Friday to ensure vaccine certificate checks could be processed quickly.
Soul Bar would be open from 11am until late.
Carter said she was confident most people would be supportive and compliant with Covid restrictions, including showing vaccine passes.
“I feel most people are aware this time around how much hospo is struggling, there’s a sense of wanting to support … if people aren’t aware of the rules, once explained they will be compliant,” she said.
“We really need to adhere to these rules more than anything because we can’t afford to do the wrong thing and be forced to close down.”
Chelsea Pyrenees, the manager of the cafe Scarecrow Kitchen, said she was optimistic about customer flow on Friday and added her team had been preparing a new menu for months.
”Our regulars can’t wait to have a proper dine in.”
Pyrenees said she was slightly nervous about the vaccine pass checking process but believed people would ease into it, just as they previously adjusted to scanning QR codes.