GOLOCAL

Rotorua punters can enjoy a cold one at their local drinking hole for the first time in 58 days as pubs and bars turn their taps on again after Covid-19 closed their doors.

But one Rotorua bar has chosen not to open just yet as the rules in level 2 took away the atmosphere.

Malls, cafes and restaurants reopened last Thursday but bars had to wait another week before opening in level 2 unless patrons were seated and served food with their drinks.

Some city bar owners say the extra week was "unfair" but others say it was "practical" and gave them longer to prepare.

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Rotorua Commercial Travellers Club secretary manager Kathleen Gallacher said she was looking forward to opening today.

"I am looking forward to seeing all of the people I haven't seen for a while."

Gallacher said she and her staff were back at work in level 3 working behind the scenes to get the club ready for reopening.

The club will be opening with reduced hours and have extra staff on to be able to adhere to the single-server rules. The doors will be open to club members only while the 100-person limit applied.

When lockdown was announced Gallacher said it was a surreal feeling.

"It was sad when we had to lock everything up and close not knowing when we would be open again."

Kathleen Gallacher, secretary manager of the Rotorua Commercial Travellers Club, is excited to open the doors in level 2. Photo / Andrew Warner
Kathleen Gallacher, secretary manager of the Rotorua Commercial Travellers Club, is excited to open the doors in level 2. Photo / Andrew Warner

Gallacher said opening a week later than restaurants gave her an extra week to prepare.

"We could have opened if I did more investigation on the 14th but to get a big place like this ready and with all of the rules in place it was going to be a bit of a push," she said.

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"It was more practical for us to have that extra week."

Hennessy's Irish Bar in Rotorua owner Reg Hennessy said it was "exciting" to be able to open the doors this afternoon after 58 days being closed.

But he said it was unknown how business would be in level 2.

"Fifty-eight days ago we turned the tap off and today we are going to turn it back on again. That is 58 days without income."

Despite that, he said it would be "wonderful" to see his customers again.

"A lot of people have texted and emailed us to offer their support. For many of them, it is their local."

Hennessy said the bar had also introduced a new $20 dinner menu to "help people that are going to be badly stung by this" and reinvigorate people to come back.

Meanwhile, the doors to Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar on Tutanekai St will remain closed today.

General manager of both Ponsonby Rd and Our House, Hapeta Manley, said the rules for bars in level 2 took away the "dance atmosphere".

However, he was looking at ways to be able to operate the business while maintaining that atmosphere and would possibly open Ponsonby on weekends only. But for now, the business remained closed.

Our House on Tutanekai St was open in level 2 and would continue to offer dine-in and takeaway.

Anann Pineapple pub in Te Puke co-owner Leigh Bartosh said a lot of backpackers and kiwifruit workers traditionally visited the bar at this time of year but after being closed since March it was "all about the regulars".

"We've been getting text messages personally to us from our customers asking about where we're at and when we are going to open," he said.

Bartosh said because the pub served food and drink it could have opened as a restaurant a week ago when New Zealand dropped to alert level 2.

However, he said the pub would have had to abide by the Easter trading laws which meant everybody had to have a meal and be on the premises for two hours maximum so he decided to wait until bars were allowed to open today.

Bartosh said he had "no qualms" with staying closed for another week because it gave him a chance to see how other bars operated in level 2 and prepare his own business for opening.