A fortnight ago, New Zealanders were waking up to the prospect of their last weekend in alert level 4 "lockdown" as the Government considered dropping the country to alert level 3. After two weeks at that "restricted" contact level, we are now tantalisingly close to level 2 - the "reduced" contact phase, whereby the disease is considered contained, although the risk of community transmission remains.
There is perhaps even more anticipation this weekend after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday outlined the details of level 2 and the country awaits Cabinet's decision on Monday about whether and when we will move down to that level.
Level 2 will make all the difference.
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• Covid 19 coronavirus: Schools and childcare open for all again at level 2
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to unveil new level 2 rules; Glenfield mall co-owner Dallas Pendergrast warns of 'political suicide' if rules not relaxed
While the move to level 3 did allow some industries, retailers and education providers to resume operation, there were still significant limitations. Socially, individuals were able to slightly expand their bubbles and extend their exercise perimeters, the message was still to stay at home and limit contact, and to continue to act as if everyone had Covid-19. For most people, it was lockdown-lite.
Level 2, however, will offer the biggest return to many of our freedoms of old and our "new normal" - or what the Prime Minister calls "a safer normal".
The guiding principle of this stage will be "play it safe", and physical distancing, hand hygiene, testing, contact tracing and staying home if sick will remain essential.
But level 2 will offer meaningful personal contact outside our bubbles for the first time. Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says "elbow bumps" still offer the best protection but it seems a quick hug, handshake or hongi - certainly between close friends and family - is likely to be okay. So too are social gatherings - of up to 100 people indoors and outdoors. Those two things will allow friends and families to connect once again, to celebrate significant events, and also to gather for vital support in times of commiseration. They cannot come soon enough for those who have struggled the most under the strict lockdown conditions.
Being able to get back to many sports and recreation activities will be welcome, for getting active again after our enforced hibernation, and offering further avenues for social connection.
A return to full schooling will be crucial for working parents, and to help provide a sense of normality and routine for children. Much longer in lockdown and the potential academic, social and psychological scars could become more evident.
Clearing the healthcare and surgery backlog will be likewise vital.
And finally, for those industries and commercial operations that weren't able to operate fully or at all under level 3, there is the opportunity to open properly for business. Seeing the likes of barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons; cafes, bars and restaurants; and movies and theatres attracting foot traffic (if they can adhere to the health and safety rules required) will be heartening.
Of course for some, particularly in the tourism and aviation sectors, the losses have already been significant and it will be a long, hard road to recovery as long as our borders remain closed and the pandemic continues to ravage the global economy.
The Government faces a critical period. Its bold, swift actions of the past weeks have undoubtedly helped the country dodge the initial Covid-19 bullet, but the economic fallout - and the wider health, social and psychological impacts - will become fully apparent only over the coming months and years.
The Government has been clear it will not risk squandering the health gains made and this is still not "business as normal". It is waiting out the full two-week incubation period needed at level 3 before health officials can gauge its success and feel confident about signalling the move down a level. It may be phased in, in smaller steps, if necessary. But the recent days with no new cases or new cases in single digits and traced to current clusters, along with ramped up testing and tracing, all point promisingly towards level 2 this next week.
The health risks will remain. It will still be up to New Zealanders to adhere to the hygiene and social distancing rules, lest we stumble backwards.
Many will embrace the giant leap level 2 offers but it is important to remember this crisis has also taken a toll, and some people will emerge more fragile than others. It will be important to go easy on those who are doing it hard.
Some have lost loved ones during lockdown and have not been able to farewell them and grieve according to their customs and practices. Some have lost their livelihoods and will have little or no income to splash out on the level 2 "treats" others may be able to enjoy.
Some will be trying to escape violent homes; some unsure of the stability of their current accommodation. And many of us, as much as we may want the closer social contact, may simply find it difficult to engage with others and the world after all the messaging, stories and images of the past months that have entrenched fear and caution.
Courage, compassion and collaboration will be required as we emerge into this brave new world together - whatever the length of our stride.