For Frings bar co-owner Garry Woodham, the last eight weeks have been long.
Woodham had to close the doors of his Whangārei bar since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, but as at yesterday at 11am, his doors were flung open as bars and nightclubs across the country were free to pour their pints.
"It's great, absolutely great," he said.
"[The punters] are gagging for it. A lot of us are friends here and the staff get on with them well and we all have a laugh and that's what people have missed."
Restaurants and cafes were allowed to open last week under alert level 2, along with bars which opened only for the purpose of serving food, not just drinks.
Together with other hospitality businesses, bars must ensure customers are seated, separated and served by one staff member.
Groups must be 10 and under with premises only allowed up to 100 people. Gaming machines were also allowed to be operated as of yesterday.
While he was disappointed to wait another week to open, Woodham felt the Government had done a great job managing Covid-19 and through the wage subsidy, Woodham had kept his eight staff employed.
As a popular spot for live music, Woodham said it was a shame to postpone regular gig nights and despite being open, his turnover through the bar would be cut in half until restrictions were lifted.
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"It's still going to be hurting ... we are doing our best to comply with the rules that are out there," he said.
Frings regulars Steve McFarlane and Charlie Vickery were eager to get back to their local yesterday, waiting by the door before opening.
"It's a long time coming," McFarlane said.
"You miss the social aspect, the people, the bar staff, it's one of my favourite pubs."
Vickery said Frings was "really friendly" and encouraged others to support their local bars.
At Whangārei's Judge House of Ale, co-owner Juliet Morrison said despite being open as a restaurant the past week, the pub had only been operating at 10 per cent capacity.
However, Morrison said it was great to see business back to "normal".
"One customer was saying, 'this is the one thing I've missed the most', to come in for a cold beer and catch up with everybody," she said.
Despite the financial hardship endured during lockdown, Morrison said it had given management a chance to be inventive, entertaining ideas such as a digital app which customers could order from.
"We want to be contactless but we want to keep the personal and make it more of a VIP experience for our customers."
For Cameron St's Pure Bar and Grill managers Jeff Harrison and Wendy Flower, yesterday was a landmark day for the couple who took over the bar's management in September last year.
While they were able to open as a restaurant this past week, Harrison said about 30-40 per cent of their revenue came from punters just looking for a drink and he was looking forward to seeing them return.
"We aren't rushing to put ourselves right out there, we'll just let the people come back as they want to," he said.
Considering people's sanitary concerns, the pair had cleaned the bar "from top to bottom" and had even used a fogging machine designed to dispel a chemical disinfectant to sanitise all surfaces.
"I definitely understand that apprehension but I would say come on in, we are going above and beyond to keep everyone safe," Flower said.
Hospitality NZ Northland branch president and operator of Kaikohe's The Bank Bar John Maurice said it was excellent to be trading again after so long.
"From customers that we've had so far, they are indeed glad to be back to have a drink and in a relaxed atmosphere."
Northland district command centre Sergeant Ryan Gray said there would be an increased police presence on late shifts in the coming days to assist bar managers and owners.
"Primarily, it's really just to be out there and give that reassurance that we are keeping everyone safe and doing our best to prevent the spread of Covid-19," he said.
Gray said local restaurants and cafes in operation this past week had complied with the level 2 restrictions well and he expected similar results with bars.
However, Gray did have a warning for partygoers planning to celebrate this weekend.
"For punters going out this weekend, hitting the town and having a drink, they just need to be aware that there could be some delays because of the restrictions.
"If they are expecting it to be pumping and raving like it was beforehand, it's simply not going to be the case."
Gray confirmed police did have the power to close a premises which wasn't complying with the level 2 restrictions, but he emphasised the focus would be on education and assistance.
Yesterday was New Zealand's fourth day without a new Covid-19 case while Northland had almost been five weeks without a new case.