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Temperature checks before buying make-up, measuring tapes at the cafe, and barbers going flat-tack.

While yesterday felt like a return to normal for many in Tauranga, these were some of the signs life in level 2 is still not quite what it used to be.

Businesses around the city rolled out efforts to comply with Government rules for distancing and restricting contact.

People returning to work were spared the peak hour congestion, with camera data showing average speeds still much faster than pre-lockdown on Totara St, 15th Ave and Hewletts Rd.

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Tauranga Transport Operations Centre manager James Wickham said it would be interesting to see the impact when schools returned on Monday.

Hundreds of Mounties started their day at Mauao.

Naomi Pianika, Hiria Rolleston and Ngawai Ormsby watched the sunrise on Mauao together for the first time in weeks. Photo / Samantha Motion
Naomi Pianika, Hiria Rolleston and Ngawai Ormsby watched the sunrise on Mauao together for the first time in weeks. Photo / Samantha Motion

Friends Naomi Pianika, Hiria Rolleston and Ngawai Ormsby went up about 4am to watch the sunrise and came down 3.5 hours later feeling reconnected.

"We are slowly integrating ourselves back to reality," Pianika said.

Dame Susan Devoy and husband John Oakley were feeling the burn after taking the stairs.

"We're ecstatic and so is everyone else up there," Devoy said. "It's the first thing of life being back to normal for us."

People were doing a "pretty good" job of keeping their distance.

Sandra Blong measuring the distance between tables at The Coffee Club Mount Maunganui. Photo / George Novak
Sandra Blong measuring the distance between tables at The Coffee Club Mount Maunganui. Photo / George Novak

Staff of Coffee Club Mount Maunganui were measuring the gap between tables.

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Owner Janet Kim said a pick-up service in level 3 helped her pay rent but in level 2 she would still have 40 per cent fewer tables than usual "which will mean way less revenue".

More public education about the rules was needed.

"People come in using cash and we have to say no."

Next door, Sidetrack Cafe owner of 20 years Petre-Lee Anderson was finding the single server system "a nightmare".

She was expecting to be trading at about 50 per cent of normal in level 2, and was grateful for the Government wage subsidy.

"We'll be able to keep going but it's not enough."

Among her supportive regulars was Colin McGonagle and a group of mates who have come for a regular 8am chat for "years", and were happy to be able to do so again.

Queues of shaggy dos formed quickly outside barbers and hairdressers.

Tania Holloway, owner of Bladez Barbers in Papamoa, said half a dozen people were waiting outside when she got in at 7.30am.

Masked hairdresser Andrea MacDougal gives client Margo Greenville a trim at Cuts in Mount Maunganui. Photo / George Novak
Masked hairdresser Andrea MacDougal gives client Margo Greenville a trim at Cuts in Mount Maunganui. Photo / George Novak

George Galvin was among the first to emerge from Cuts on Maunganui Rd after his first trim in 10 weeks.

"Just about filled a bale. Much lighter."

X.LAB label fashion designer Toni-Marie Hood burst out laughing when asked for a photo during her pedicure at Hollywood Nails in Papamoa East.

"No one will be surprised to see me here. I've been hanging out for it, so excited."

At Tivoli Cinema next door, co-owner Shane Jarrett was preparing to open with older movies, as distributors kept pulling new releases.

"We are waiting and hoping the Government will offer some more support for small business owners."

Event Cinemas in the CBD, Mount Maunganui and at Tauranga Crossing, have not opened yet, in part due to the lack of new releases.

Tauranga's three malls were humming, with managers at Papamoa Plaza, Bayfair and Tauranga Crossing reporting retailers and customers alike were in good spirits and obeying the rules.

There were queues at hair and nail bars as well as stores such as Kmart, Glassons and The Warehouse.

At Mecca Maxina in Bayfair, customers were being checked with a temperature gun before being allowed to enter.

Bayfair shopper Rebecca Burnett, a lawyer and mum of two, said she knew what she wanted but it still took half an hour to get through Kmart due to queuing inside the store.

Mainstreet retailer Val Auld, owner of CBD gift store Cabbages and Kings for 28 years, said it was exciting to be able to greet customers again and show them her new stock.

"People can come in and feel free - after sanitising at the door."

Sanitiser was also flowing at gyms.

Estelle Baigent, co-owner of Bout Fitness, said she opened at 5am to a full class.

"I was like 'what are you guys doing, it's 5am'," she said, with a laugh.

Hannah Mellsop was in the 9am class and had the data on how her gym workout topped her backyard efforts.

"I have an Apple watch. Today I did 412 calories in 35 minutes, at home that would usually be about 320 calories. Doing it with all your friends and with a trainer motivating you, you just work so much harder."

Mellsop was hoping to get her business, Real Rad Food, back to 50 per cent in level 2.

"It's been a tough time but it has given us the time to pivot and adapt our model. I'm really excited about what we're going to be rolling out.

Many Tauranga boaties, however, were robbed of their first chance to head out on the water by an inhospitable 3m swell.

Tauranga Sportfishing Club manager Roly Bagshaw said boaties had been joking for weeks that the calm weather would turn as soon as the restrictions were lifted.