After a full week at alert level 2, a steady stream of customers are returning to Hamilton's CBD, and with the bars back open, only more good things can come, says Hamilton CBD Association general manager Vanessa Williams.
On Thursday, bars around the county were able to open their doors for the first time with workers able to partake in their after work Friday drinks for the first time in two months.
With restrictions on gatherings set to lift to 100 on Friday, Ms Williams said the steps being taken will help rebuild the economy.
"The bars being open is another drawcard for people looking to come into town and we need to encourage people to come back in and thereby stimulating economic activity," Ms Williams said.
"Since the Thursday reopening there was a steady stream of customers which followed on in to the weekend. There was and is still a little confusion with the public around the rules and regulations that apply to bars, with some not realising that ordering a meal was no longer a requirement but being seated in groups of 10 does still apply."
She said there was a positive feeling around being able to open the doors and reconnect with customers at bars, and hopefully the sentiment and local support will continue allowing these businesses to properly re-establish themselves.
"In terms of what next, it really is a wait and see with the rules and regulations around the levels and therefore the impact these have on different industries and activities. Now more than ever it is a numbers game."
Ms Williams also praised Hamilton City Council, and the Matamata-Piako District Council for finding ways to help the hospitality sector rebuild, including waiving fees on outdoor cafe areas and opening up more streetscape for them to expand.
"Removing fees for outdoor café areas for a period of time may only be a small financial cost to the business but at the moment while these businesses are having to re-establish and rebuild themselves after some months without income, any help and support that can be provided will be welcomed. It is great to see council supporting this.
"I had read about Morrinsville receiving funding to create café space from public areas and I fully support this direction.
"I have also been reading about how cities overseas are looking to support their hospitality and one of the most common themes is the opening up of public spaces to be dining areas by providing tables and chairs.
"This helps to provide the public confidence around physical distancing and also supports the hospitality sector by showing commitment to helping them to have the best opportunity to trade. I am a big fan of public space being used in this way to support hospitality."
Ms Williams said the CBD is now fully open to the public and hopes locals getting on board with supporting their local cafes and restaurants.
"As the business community makes its way back in to town we hope to see the local support continue to grow.
"We have heard some great stories of businesses providing staff with vouchers for local hospitality when they come back in which is a lovely way to encourage and support the local business community."