The move to "delta level 2" from tomorrow has been described as "a big relief" for one Tauranga business and "tough" for another.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today regions outside of Auckland would move from level 3 to 2 from 11.59pm on Tuesday.
"It doesn't mean we are out of the woods. Level 2 will be different. This is Delta level 2," she said.
New rules have been introduced including mandatory face coverings at all indoor venues. There will be exceptions for customers - but not staff - for eating and drinking in hospitality venues.
Ardern said new rules on scanning also applied at level 2: mandatory scanning at bars, restaurants, cinemas, churches, hairdressers and anywhere with close contact between people.
Outdoor venues can host up to 100 people but indoor venues are restricted to 50.
Miss Gee's bar owner Ashleigh Gee said the new restrictions, which also include distancing requirements, were going to be "tough".
"We're not going to have 50 seats inside anyway because we're only a small venue. Normally we jam everyone in that wants to be in there.
"Hopefully it will just [be] temporary."
Her bar will reopen on Thursday, as will Tivoli Cinema Pāpāmoa.
Cinema co-owner Karen Focas said level two was "a bit more strict" this time with a 2-metre seating arrangements and mandatory masks.
It would be "quite an interesting level two" but it was "doable".
"People are definitely [being] very compliant and wanting to look after each other," she said.
"Mask wearing will bring another level of safety into the cinema."
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty manager Melissa Renwick said the announcement was "two-fold".
"It essentially gives with one hand and takes with another," she said.
"We are really pleased that more of our members can open ... but for a lot of people that cap of 50 people is not going to cover costs."
Blow Hair Co co-owner Aarron Fenwick said he was "ecstatic".
"We've been making zero dollars for three weeks now so it's just really good to actually be able to open the doors."
Robyn's Cottage owner Robyn Parker said it would be "amazing" to be able to have people in and show them new products that had arrived from overseas in lockdown.
Students will return to schools from Thursday morning. Mask-wearing isn't mandatory, but director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said it was recommended, especially for students 12 and older. The same applied to universities.
Principal of Tauranga Boys' College Robert Mangan said it would be "fantastic" to "get back to face-to-face learning".
"I know [the students will] have missed the human contact [and] missed their mates."
Tauranga Sport Fishing Club president Doug Stewart said level two would mean anglers who had been "sitting around for three weeks" could go out fishing again.
"That will be a big relief," he said.
"A lot of them have been going down to their boats and looking out the window and getting pretty depressed…"
Stewart said the move would be good for the community and businesses who were suffering, "especially the ones in hospitality".
"What we need to do now is get vaccinated so we don't have any more lockdowns."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the move to level 2 was "critical" for businesses who could not operate during lockdown.
"These are the hairdressers, the gyms... this allows them to have cash flow."
Cowley said there were a lot of new requirements that businesses needed to "fully understand", clarify their plans and communicate to their teams.
Businesses also needed to plan how they would police numbers due to capacity restrictions and how they would communicate that to people, he said.
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, of National, said the level move was "very welcome".
"Many local businesses and organisations will breathe a sigh of relief and parents will be happy to be able to send their children back to school," he said.
He said it was "essential" for the vaccination programme to keep ramping up and that issues with the MIQ system, including a need for purpose-built facilities, were addressed.
Tauranga City Council commission chairwoman Anne Tolley said the move was a start of returning to normality.
"There's still restrictions and people still need to be sensible, but it looks like the lockdown is getting on top of things and the rest of the country can start getting on with their lives."
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said the community needed to be vigilant and follow the new rules about wearing masks and scanning in.
"The last thing we want to revert back to level 3 or... back to level 4."
Labour List MP Jan Tinetti said the "best protection" was the vaccination.
"We need to ensure we go and get our vaccinations and do the best we can by the rest of the country."