A Bay of Plenty bar owner says operating under strict social distancing rules has been "frustrating" and costly and lifting these restrictions possibly next week offered the chance to "fire some oxygen" into the local economy.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed yesterday that once the decision is made to move to alert level 1, all social distancing restrictions at bars, restaurants, churches and sports stadium, community sporting events and funerals would be lifted.
Strict border controls would still be in force, she said.
Ardern also unveiled her 10 gold rules of alert level 1, which included keeping track of where people had been and isolating immediately if told to do so by authorities.
Cabinet would review the alert level status on Monday.
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Tauranga and Rotorua businesses and community leaders say with no new Covid-19 cases for 12 days, moving to level 1 without delay makes perfect sense.
Craft Bar and Kitchen owner Billy Emeny said operating under alert level 2 had been a "hugely difficult and costly exercise" not just for his business but the whole bar and restaurant sector.
Emeny said social distancing requirements not only took a lot of extra time, effort and staff to maintain, it also meant a significant reduction in his turnover.
Some businesses could not even operate under level 2 or chose not to open due to the social distancing restrictions, he said.
"We need to get our local economy turning over again as quickly as possible. I don't need 48 hours' notice, I'm ready to move to level 1 right now."
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Hennessy's Irish Bar owner Reg Hennessy said he was rapt to know that it may be only days away before the social distancing restrictions were lifted.
"I really hope there isn't a big time-lag once the announcement is made," Hennessy said
Moving to alert level 1 would help "fire some oxygen" into businesses struggling to keep afloat and inject some much-needed revenue into the local economy, he said.
"It's been particularly frustrating watching other businesses operating without the same strict social distancing rules bars have had to operate under."
Hennessy said it had been an extremely tough time to try and keep his business afloat.
"Particularly on Saturday and Sunday over Queen's Birthday weekend when we had to turn hundreds of people away due to the social distancing rules."
Hennessy said within an hour on one of those days he had to turn away more than 50 people.
"It does not sit well with me when I have to turn away mums and dads with three kids looking forward to having a meal especially when they had nowhere else to go," he said
"We need to move to level 1 as soon as possible before more businesses have to close their doors," he said.
Reverend John Hebenton from St George's Church in Gate Pa, Tauranga, said moving to level 1 would be a "huge relief" to parishioners.
"Our last physical service at the church was back in March when we had 14 people attend as no one over 70 was allowed to go out," he said.
Hebenton said, while the restrictions were relaxed under level 2, the church decided to hold online services to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of all parishioners.
"A lot of our parishioners are in their 70s and 80s and some in their 90s, and our online services meant they could still attend church services, especially those in rural areas.
"Some of the older parishioners have been quite anxious about going out when not everyone has been fully adhering to the social distancing rules", he said.
Father Eamon Kennedy from St Mary's Church in Rotorua said full social distancing had been strictly adhered to at the church.
"This meant we have had to double the number of church services from four to eight to cope with demand and parishioners have had to book online to attend mass.
"But we are just grateful to the Government to allow church services to resume again. It's been wonderful to be able to do so after two months in total lockdown.
"The social distancing requirements have been a bit of traumatic and anxious time for some of our congregation. Having the freedom to come together to celebrate mass again without the distancing restrictions cannot come soon enough."
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said he and his colleagues were "really excited" and relieved to know that the opportunity to finally "get back to some degree of normality" in terms of community and professional sports was within close reach.
"Rugby union is not just about sport, it's about being able to connect and engage with other people, and share exciting experiences," Rogers said.
Not being able to do so had been an extremely challenging and difficult time for everyone, the revenue streams of sports club had taken a significant hit, he said.