"It's going to be different."
That's the consensus of Northland business owners and organisations as the Government moves to "cautiously open up the economy" while continuing to try to stamp out Covid-19.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered a glimpse of what life will look like after the current lockdown, ahead of next Monday's decision on whether to go down to alert level 3.
While level 3 would still see many restrictions on people's interactions with others, parts of the economy will be allowed to reopen in a bid to kickstart economic recovery.
Businesses and workplaces will move from "essential operations" to "safe operations", and people must work from home if they can.
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Those who can't work from home and who have no interaction with customers - including those in forestry and construction - can return to work, if staff follow strict social distancing and good hygiene practices.
Businesses which are accessed by the public - bars, cafes, restaurants and retail stores -will stay shut. But they can open for online or phone purchases, along with contactless delivery or click and collect. Food deliveries, drive-through services and takeaway coffee are all allowed, however they must be contactless.
Northland Inc chief executive Murray Reade said the level 3 outline looked "positive".
Though there was limited ability for some businesses to trade, "it's got to be better than it is at the moment".
But Reade said people should continue to "follow the rules and play the game" to avoid further outbreaks of the virus.
"It's really important we start looking at recovering. This will allow for some movement but, clearly, personal safety is the big issue. We want to nail this virus after all our hard work. If the health of our people suffers, the economy will suffer."
The initial four-week lockdown is set to end on Wednesday at 11.59pm, and the Government will officially announce on Monday whether the country can move down a level.
Ardern's latest briefing was about giving New Zealanders time to think about what alert level 3 means for them.
Travel will be expanded from local to regional journeys, though trips must be undertaken only when necessary.
Early childhood centres and school for students up to year 10 will be reopened and attendance will be voluntary.
Funerals and tangi can go ahead, but only 10 people can attend. Weddings are also restricted to 10 people and only services can take place - there can't be any meal or reception.
Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Steve Smith said the move to level 3 would be good for the "huge number" of small businesses in the region.
This includes many tradespeople, such as builders, he said.
"They've all been saying they just need to get back on the building site. From that perspective, that's good news."
However, many domestic building contracts had been cancelled, Smith said, "so, I wonder how much forward business they've been left with".
Smith said the biggest issue for all businesses is gaps in cashflow.
"What people are seeing during the last four weeks is that cashflow has been eliminated. Cash reserves have been eroded and completely exhausted. The moment they attempt to open the doors, they'll be picking up a lot of invoices which will require payment.
"That's where you go into a train wreck situation. The Government may need to dig into its back pocket again to try to restart some of these businesses."
Waipū Business and Community Society chairman Bruce Larsen said though there are still "details to work through", it's a move in the right direction.
Larsen – who is also the general manager of Northpine - said some businesses, like cafes and restaurants, could struggle to adapt.
"It's going to be different," he said.
"It certainly won't be like before the lockdown, but people are able to get out of the house and pick up stuff and do things, so it's positive. There's going to have to be a lot of thought as to how people will operate, but at least there's an opportunity to modify your business so you can operate to some level."
More details about the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's accreditation scheme will be released next week.
Bay Builders director Bevin MacCarthy said he would work through how to implement measures so his staff could work safely. His biggest concern was the supply of materials and potential shortages.
Having to stop jobs part-way through while waiting on materials was "inefficient and ends up costing more".
"It'll be good to get back into work but, if we're going to be hamstrung with getting materials, it could be more of a hassle than it's worth,'' he said.
"I'd rather stay a week or two longer coming out knowing we've beaten this thing and can go back to normal."
Brian Bignell, the owner of Hotspot Takeaways in Whangārei, said he and his staff would adjust to taking phone orders and doing deliveries.
"It won't be business like it was that's for sure - it'll have to be different," he said.
"Hopefully it won't be for too long."
Bignell said he was "gearing up for a busy time" if the move to Level 3 is confirmed on Monday.
"There'll be a lot of people wanting to get out and taste someone else's cooking."