Whanganui restaurants are ready to "fling their doors open" as the country enters level 2 on Thursday and are preparing for a big weekend.
Caroline's Boatshed owner, Caroline Norton, said the past six weeks had been tough, as they haven't known exactly when they could open.
"I think it's the whole unknown that was the difficult part," she said.
"We have 34 staff here so that was our major concern and making sure they are all okay and feel supported."
Manager Jack Bullock said a number of changes had been made to the restaurant to meet level 2 guidelines.
"Things will look a little different when our customers arrive. There have been table layout changes to allow for correct space and distancing between customers."
Norton noted about 30 per cent of seating had been removed to allow for correct spacing between customers. The loss in potential customers stings, but Norton remains positive.
"We are just grateful we can actually open."
Bullock said they are doing "a bunch of little things" such as no cocktails being served and no straws to stop any potential spread of germs.
Norton said it may take at least 12 months for the hospitality industry to recover from Covid-19.
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"I think it is going to take hospitality quite some time before we get back to anything like normal, if normal ever happens again."
Norton noted the wage subsidy as a key factor in keeping business as healthy as it could be during the lockdown.
"Our biggest costs are our labour costs in hospitality. It has been a great relief for the staff and for the business in general."
Caroline's Boatshed will be open Friday.
"It's going to be good to fling the doors back open and have our regulars come in and enjoy the service that we give and the food that we make," Bullock said.
The Rutland Arms Inn on Ridgway St has spent the past three weeks updating its menu to while also giving the inside of the restaurant a facelift.
Owner Jennifer Gilbertson-Small said they hadn't been able to make changes in the past as they were never closed.
"We've polished all the floorboards and repainted. It's looking 1000 per cent better than it was.
"That's the silver lining of the lockdown for us."
Gilbertson-Small has been blown away by the support they have received during the lockdown.
"It has been so humbling to have so many people contact us during lockdown and really worried about what's going to happen and to say "we will be there when you open again", that has been really special."
Caroline's Boatshed and Rutland Arms Inn are using a QR code for contact tracing purposes, as well as a paper sign-in sheet if people don't have cell phones.
"You just download the QR app and scan the code and enter your details," Gilbertson-Small said.
Although its big brother restaurant, Stellar, will open today, The Vic has to wait another week along with the country's other bars to open.
General manager of The Vic, Charlie Meyerhoff, said from a business perspective it's hard, but understands the reasoning.
"I think it's for the best," she said. "I was a bit nervous leading up to this. It's all good controlling people in a restaurant, but as soon as people start getting a bit too drunk it gets hard.
"I would feel awful if we couldn't control it properly and someone who was infected spread it to other people."
Meyerhoff said people like hugging after a few drinks, especially after not seeing each other for a long time.
She said they are ready to go for next Thursday.
"All the staff are ready to go and excited to see all the customers again. I think everyone needs to be patient, not just us but all restaurant venues in town that are all adjusting and going into an environment we have never been before.
"If customers could be understanding that we, by law, have to stick to regulations and also morally we want the safety of our staff to be paramount, so we need to do what's right by them as well."