More than 80 restaurants and cafes and hundreds of construction workers will breathe some much-needed life into the listless central city next week.
Whether it's contactless Korean fried chicken takeaways or pre-cast concrete slabs being lifted in place, downtown Auckland will begin the long road back to recovery when level 3 starts on Tuesday.
"It's been a really tough time for most of our businesses over the past four weeks," Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck told the Weekend Herald.
About 1300 shops, banks and other businesses involving face-to-fact contact - such as physios and dentists - have closed. Tourists and tens of thousands of local and international students have disappeared from the Queen St valley.
On a busy weekday, Queen St would normally be packed with 40,000 pedestrians. For the past few weeks, the wide footpaths have been reduced to a handful of city residents out for a stroll.
Beck said level 3 brought an opportunity for people to trade again and businesses were keen to get going. More than 80 restaurants and cafes will be operating contactless pick-up and delivery for local residents, essential and new workers and people further afield.
Everything from curries, pastries, dumplings and, yes, coffee, to five-star food from top restaurants like The Grove, Ostro, Culprit, Euro and Soul will be on offer.
Beck said she had also heard from some 60 retailers who were keen to get going with online and contactless pick-up. They included well-known shops Marbecks and Unity Books and others, like florists, which had not been able to operate under level 4.
Small businesses are also keen to get back to business, like Giapo ice cream in Gore St, which will be limiting its batch-crafted delights to 100 cones per day.
Alison Dyson, who runs Scarecrow, a small restaurant, cafe, grocery and florist business in Victoria St, said she planned to offer groceries, takeaway dishes and salads, as well as vacuum-packed meals from Tuesday.
The past month had been tough financially, she said, but one of the benefits had been stepping back and "reflecting on our core values, who we are and what we do want to be in the future".
Another businessman with an eye on the future is Geoff Tuttle, chief executive of Goods Spirits Hospitality, which has a number of pubs in Auckland, including the Cav in College Hill, Danny Doolan and O'Hagans in the Viaduct, Citizen Park in Kingsland and Botany Commons at the Botany Town Centre.
He plans to use his kitchens and labour force to set up an "online food court" offering a takeaway menu of 12 to 20 dishes available in the central city and across Auckland.
He said level takeaways and deliveries would not be profitable in level 3.
"Level 3 is really about an opportunity for what you can achieve in the medium to long-term," Tuttle said.
When level 2 arrives, he believes business may return to about 50 per cent and the other 50 per cent could be supplemented by takeaways and deliveries.
"When we get to level 1 we might go back to 100 per cent of our normal retail trade and we have got this great new business on the side we have created as well."
Several large construction projects restart in the CBD on Tuesday, including the $4.4 billion City Rail Link, the Quay St and waterfront works planned for the America's Cup, public and private works at Wynyard Quarter and cycleway projects on Victoria St and Karangahape Rd.
City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said his team was "champing at the bit" to get back on the job, saying there could be opportunities to accelerate some work, including more shifts of work and the use of extra plant and machinery.
"Those 'shovel-ready' ideas are still in the planning stages but our contractors will be working hard – and safely – to get CRL delivered as quickly as possible for Auckland," Sweeney said.
Work is also due to restart on the $1 billion Commercial Bay office tower and shopping centre on Tuesday, being built by Fletcher Construction for Precinct Properties.
Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard said it was good news for everyone involved that work could get under way again, and the project was very close to completion.
The three-level inner-city shopping and dining centre is planned to be home to 120 retailers and about 35 food and beverage operators.