Key Points:

  • New Zealand has moved into Covid Alert Level 2
  • Much-missed shops and services in Rotorua reopen
  • Social distancing and basic hygiene still a requirement

1.40pm:

Hawkes Bay man Doug Bracewell came to Rotorua today specifically to get his family tā moko at Moko101.

He had booked in to have the tā moko done two weeks before lockdown after seeing the work moko artist Hōhua Mohi had done on a friend.

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"I just thought the quality was unreal, I've got to book in there."

Moko artist Hōhua Mohi and his client Doug Bracewell who came all the way from Hawkes Bay to get his family tā moko. Photo / Andrew Warner
Moko artist Hōhua Mohi and his client Doug Bracewell who came all the way from Hawkes Bay to get his family tā moko. Photo / Andrew Warner

But Bracewell made the decision to postpone when the crisis started to escalate.

"Before I start work next week, I thought it would be the perfect time to come and get it done."

It would take two days and Bracewell will stay with family tonight in Tauranga before heading home tomorrow.

12.20pm:

Rotorua mother Stella Crabb waited in line at Kmart for an hour before embarking on an hour-long shop with her two of her daughters.

Crabb has five children and the shop was as much a necessity as it was a trip of sanity to get out of the house. She had to stock up on household items as well as school supplies ahead of her children heading back on Monday.

Stella Crabb with her children Marilyn 7 (left) and Tuia. Photo / Andrew Warner
Stella Crabb with her children Marilyn 7 (left) and Tuia. Photo / Andrew Warner

She said while the shop took a total of two hours, it was calm inside the store and staff were swift at the checkout.

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Meanwhile Okere Falls Store's famous Thursday burger night will be in full swing this evening, with one customer booked in set to arrive by boat.

Owner Sarah Uhl said the contactless pickup and delivery had been running for the last two weeks and the burger night tradition had sold out each Thursday. Tonight's menu will be a choice of a black bean pattie vegan burger on a charcoal bun or the 'Cheesy Mother Clucker' which she expected would sell out.

Uhl said today had been steady and regular customers had come in to get their coffee and snack fix, and say hello.

She said the future will pose a lot of challenges but with that could come opportunities, too.

11.30am:

A Rotorua Daily Post photographer said a massive line had formed to get into Kmart.

A massive line formed outside Rotorua's Kmart this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
A massive line formed outside Rotorua's Kmart this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

11.03am:

Glassons store manager Elle Reid said customers were excited to be back but had been thrown by the new normal of spacing in the store and signing in before entering.

"They're just a little bit taken aback that this is actually happening. I guess it's just about getting use to the new normal."

Prior to opening this morning, they had received a lot of questions about exchanging clothes they bought online during lockdown as well as questions about available stock.

Reid said the had been increasingly busy since opening and anticipated a steady day

10.52am:

It had been six months since university student Angus Hunter's last hair cut, and taming the mane was "well-needed".

He was happy to be around new faces at the salon and said staff were taking extra care to keep everyone safe as they made the transition to normal life. Hunter will fully embrace level 2 and also plans to go to the gym today and tomorrow between studying.

Angus Hunter was happy to finally get a hair appointment with Ukiah Tamaki at Honey Comb. Photo / Andrew Warner
Angus Hunter was happy to finally get a hair appointment with Ukiah Tamaki at Honey Comb. Photo / Andrew Warner

He came home from Otago University for the lockdown and says studying his computer science degree from home has been a challenge with less interaction with tutors.

He will return to Dunedin in July for the beginning of the second semester as all of his exams will be online.

10.20am:

Moko101 owner and ta moko artist Hōhua Mohi is expecting to take a hit as 40 to 50 per cent of his clients were tourists.

He is gearing up for his first client at noon and says it will be good to get back to normality but also says the time away has given artists a "well-needed rest".

"It gave a time for a lot of artists to sit back and recharge as well as afford some time to study the craft ... and that's good too."

Moko101 owner and tā moko artist Hōhua Mohi. Photo / Andrew Warner
Moko101 owner and tā moko artist Hōhua Mohi. Photo / Andrew Warner

He said now it was important to figure out how to do their mahi while still following the right procedures which now also meant no walk-ins and no support people for those being tattooed.

10am:
Zorb Rotorua is busting to officially open on Saturday at 10am with staff currently finalising all the safety procedures.

Co-owner Melissa Craig said they were hopeful for busy weekend after having heard from hotels around the city that a lot of visitors would be here this weekend.

"It's really exciting."

Skyline Rotorua will also be opening again at 10am on Saturday but at a reduced capacity.

9.49am:

Rotorua Central Mall general manager Peter Faulkner said, as of 9.35am, there were 346 people in the mall with the Warehouse attracting the most customers while the other stores remained steady.

The mall was keeping a headcount to ensure they stayed within the targeted numbers of 300 people in the Warehouse, 200 in the food court and 100 for the balance of all the other shops.

Big line outside Central Mall Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
Big line outside Central Mall Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner

He said for people coming into the mall, it was like "being treated like royalty" with staff greeting everyone at the doors.

He said people and retailers were "really happy to be out".

9.39am:

The first thing Rotorua man Eric Perenara did this morning was head straight to the Warehouse to replace his vacuum cleaner which broke just before lockdown.

"It's a hell of a mess."

Perenara got there just before 8am, wearing a mask, to find a line had already formed.

Eric Perenara outside the Central Mall. Photo / Andrew Warner
Eric Perenara outside the Central Mall. Photo / Andrew Warner

As he was early, the store was quiet and he made sure he was an "in and out" and said he was excited life was beginning to look a bit more normal.

The rest of the day will be spent with a mate he has not seen in over year.

9.12am:

A line outside Honeycomb Hair and Beauty began forming at 7.30am, an hour and a half before doors opened, "and was growing by the minute", owner Sarah Pearson said.

She said colourists had almost booked out for the next three days and the evening hours had been extended to fit in the rush of people.

"It's so exciting, I couldn't even sleep last night it's like Christmas, it's just nice to be seeing people."

Line outside Honeycombe Hairdressing this morning. Photo / Supplied
Line outside Honeycombe Hairdressing this morning. Photo / Supplied

Two people were allowed in the salon to wait on the couch but the rest would need to queue outside the closed door.

"I'm not seeing too much bad stuff at the minute but don't hold me to that."

9.01am:

My Barber owner Ants Haines said they were busy even before their usual 9am opening time.

My Barber back in action this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
My Barber back in action this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

8.50am:

Vish Beauty Bar's phone has been ringing off the hook this morning and today was completely booked out.

Employee Manpreet Kaur said while it was good to be back, she was still nervous about the spread of the virus, and staff all had masks, gloves and visors as a safety precaution.

EARLIER:

Barbers razors will be buzzing, malls will be open and hungry people will be able to sit down in restaurants as the city wakes up to life at level 2.

Rotorua retailers said they were eager to re-open after a long seven weeks in lockdown and many were introducing new safety measures as level 2 approached.

Customers streamed in through the doors the minute local cafe Capers Epicurean opened it's doors at 7am.

Rotorua Central Mall general manager Peter Faulkner said there was a queue forming outside the Central Mall. He said it may be a case of people getting used to signing in for contact tracing.

Capers barista Moana Old-Wallace this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
Capers barista Moana Old-Wallace this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

He was expecting a surge of people to last for the next five days from the novelty of being able to shop again as well as people needing to replace goods that have worn out.

He said the mall would open at 8am when the Warehouse opened and other retailers would open at 9am.

Line outside Central Mall. Photo / Andrew Warner
Line outside Central Mall. Photo / Andrew Warner

CrossFit Ruark owner Josh Gardiner said although it was not the rush he expected, the steady flow this morning was "exciting".

"It just felt like a fresh start."

Classes had already been booked out for later this week.

He said he was surprised with the amount of inquiries from non-members during lockdown that were keen to join up.

From 12pm, The Wall - an indoor rock climbing facility - will open back to those keen to get a hit of adrenaline. The climbing gym will be limited to 28 people.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said retail operators, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public spaces can reopen today with physical distancing measures in place.

From Monday schools and early childhood centres will open.

Then on Thursday next week bars will be able to open adhering to the three Ss rules - seated service, social distancing and single servers.

Pubs and bars will be allowed to open earlier if they adhere to rules including serving patrons a meal, not just drinks.

The cafe which was had been quietly preparing a online orders for customers during Level 3 now had a hum of life, said front of house manager Dee McRoy.
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She said it was good to be back although "definitely different" with the new hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

My Barber will open today with a ticketing system to ensure only 10 people were in the barber shop at a time.

On a video post on the business' social media page, Ants Haines said bookings would need to be made online and some walk-ins would be allowed.

"I just need you guys to be patient. I know it's going to be crazy and hectic, I can feel it already," he said on the video

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Rotorua public facilities such as the library, Rotorua International Stadium, the Rotorua Aquatic Centre, Rotorua iSite and the Rotorua Nursery will open today.

Contact tracing at level 2

Keeping you safe at level 2 is at the forefront of our minds! Watch the quick video below to see how we will ensure all members and guests are contact traced ✅

Posted by Rotorua Aquatic Centre on Wednesday, 13 May 2020

The Rotorua Aquatic Centre has a QR code system for casual users and a swipe card for members to use for contact tracing.

All playgrounds and sports facilities, parks and reserves will begin to open from today, too.
Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Rotorua Landfill is open with safe operating measures in place and rubbish and recycling collection remains the same as during Level 3.

Building and other site inspections have resumed with safe operating measures in place.

Rotorua Energy Events Centre will remain closed to the public.

Inner-city parking services resume and the Rotorua Lakes Council said parking payments and time restrictions will need to be adhered to when parking in the CBD.


Play it safe: Level 2 golden rules

- COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
- Keep your distance from other people in public.
- If you're sick, stay home. Don't go to work or school. Don't socialise.
- If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline and get advice about being tested.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, regularly disinfect surfaces.
- If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
- Keep track of where you've been and who you've seen.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website