There's been smiles and tears, but fewer customers than expected as cafes around the country open their doors for the first time since the country went into lockdown seven weeks ago.

Those at the till from Takapuna to Balclutha told the Herald the first day of level 2 had been quieter than expected, with some reiterating a nationwide call for Kiwis to support local business. Under level 2 people can dine in as long as businesses follow rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Sierra Cafe owner Anil Chib said it had been "really quiet" at his Ponsonby Rd business.

"We were so happy moving to level 2, but it might be people are a bit scared [to go out]."


He had paid full rent through the level 3 and 4 lockdowns and was feeling "a little bit worried now".

"The community needs to support local business. We are struggling now, it's really hard."

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Other central Auckland cafes, including Bestie Cafe on Karangahape Rd, Major Sprout near Victoria St West and Shaky Isles on Customs St East also reported a quiet or steady start today.

"It's not busy, but it's better than level 3 [when we were open only for takeaway]," Shaky Isles manager Jefferson Pereira said.

"Hopefully people will be coming back next week ... when offices open. It's really nice seeing everyone."

Go with Tourism redeploying displaced tourism workers and providing guidance to tourism businesses throughout the spread of COVID-19. Video / Go with Tourism

It was the same story in suburban Auckland, with Jamie's Cafe in New Lynn, Ronnie's Cafe in Papakura and Remuera Local Cafe serving fewer than expected.

"The regulars are so excited," Remuera Local Cafe worker Miren Berasaluce told the Herald.

"It's not as busy as we expected it to be. I think people are a little scared ... but it will pick up. People will realise it's safe."


Takapuna Beach Cafe owner James Bryant said numbers so far had been similar to level 3, but that may have also been affected by the wind direction.

The wind and tide timetable - a morning low tide was always good for business - was more favourable tomorrow and through the weekend, and he expected busier days as a result.

In the deep south, Maureen Martin had also had fewer than expected customers at her Balclutha cafe, Cafe 55 on Clyde.

She was hopeful numbers would increase when most kids went back to school next week.

The community had already shown its support during the lockdown, so she was optimistic for the future.

"The locals have been brilliant, we've had people ringing up for catering. Every person said 'we will support you'."


In Wellington, it was a steady morning at Petone's Dandelion Cafe, owner Robyn Attewell said.

The lockdown - which she supported - had been hard. But she knew their customers were behind them.

"People were very happy to be coming in today. It's just great to see everybody again, and everybody's so supportive ... telling us to soldier on. It brings a tear to your eye."

There were also tears in Christchurch, where a steady stream of customers were coming to Miro Cafe and Restaurant, restaurant manager Ana-Maria Didenco said.

It was wonderful seeing so many happy people, she said.

"Everyone's just smiling."


In some cases, the smiles came through tears.

"There were these four girlfriends, and they were in tears seeing each other again." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website