From RNZ

Arguably the country's most famous burger joint is ready to reopen its doors this morning, with a clear social distancing plan in place to avoid any unnecessary contact.

Queenstown's Fergburger has such a devout following that customers have caused famously long crowded lines, waiting for over an hour at peak times. Irish rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll even once gave its burgers a live post-match shout out.

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However, Covid-19 has knocked Queenstown's booming tourism industry flat.

With the change to alert level 3, staff have been busy since Tuesday preparing the premises for reopening.

Group general manager Stephen Bradley said Fergburger would be open with its regular hours, 8am through to 5am.

Fergburger group general manager Stephen Bradley outside its Shotover Street store in Queenstown. Photo / Belinda McCammon, RNZ
Fergburger group general manager Stephen Bradley outside its Shotover Street store in Queenstown. Photo / Belinda McCammon, RNZ

On Monday, its bakery Fergbaker will open, but its gelato store will remain closed for the time being.

"There hasn't been any easy decisions over the last six weeks but we felt it was the right decision to open. Give a bit of cheer back, give our staff something to work towards and see how it goes.''

Customers will be able to order online through the company's website and it will take phone orders.

"Completely contactless. And you won't be able to enter the precinct unless you have made that order," Bradley said.

Customers can expect markers on Shotover St indicating where to stand.

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"We're asking them to respect each other. There'll be signs up to the entry of the area and there'll be someone outside during the busy times to guide them and enforce that too.''

Bradley said there had been a mixed bag of re-openings since Tuesday.

The burgers have attracted a huge following and crowds have often gathered even before the Shotover St doors open at 8am. Photo / supplied
The burgers have attracted a huge following and crowds have often gathered even before the Shotover St doors open at 8am. Photo / supplied

"And that was one of our reasons for not rushing in. We did not need to be open on Tuesday. We wanted to take our time and learn from the good and the bad from others.''

Bradley said he didn't know how the re-opening would go.

Kiwis across the country share the highs and lows of getting their fast food fix after lockdown.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"It's just been horrific for our town and community and will continue to be so. We expect a complete change in patterns.

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"There are so many unfortunate stories in our community, so it will be a very slow rebuild for us, there's no doubt about that.''