Bottle caps popped, glasses clinked and thirsty locals rejoiced as their favourite bars and pubs reopened today.

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Rotorua punters were able to enjoy a cold one at their local watering hole for the first time in 58 days after Covid-19 closed their doors.

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.

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As he sipped a beer and caught up with an old mate at Ruck 'n Maul around midday, Peter Wrigley said it was "absolutely brilliant" to be back.

"I'm here for the drinks and the food. I live out in the east but I come here because they have lovely meals and I play golf with the manager. I've missed the atmosphere."

When asked if he had missed heading to the pub and catching up with his mates, Wrigley replied: "Does a bear piss in the forest? Yes."

Ngarue Ratapu said it was great to be able to go out and support his favourite local businesses.

"They do a great steak here too, I highly recommend it, I come here for the food. I love coming here and I think it's important that we support local businesses, buy local."

Ruck 'n Maul owner Ramona Mitchell said it was nice to be back in business and seeing all the familiar faces coming in and people were following the new rules, such as signing in and out on a register.

"We're pretty excited, it's good, it's been busy all morning. It has been hard being closed but we managed to use that time to do our upgrades which was a positive."

Meanwhile, at Malfroy's Bar, customers were also getting used to the new normal.

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Manager Prabh Singh said customers had to sign in and out, maintain safe distances and staff were cleaning regularly to ensure health and safety guidelines were met.

Malfroy's Bar customer David Barnett couldn't wait to get back. Photo / Andrew Warner
Malfroy's Bar customer David Barnett couldn't wait to get back. Photo / Andrew Warner

"We're very happy to be back, it's the first day and it's a little bit different with the new rules but health and safety for our staff and customers is the most important."

Malfroy's Bar customer David Barnett said he couldn't wait to get back once they reopened.

"I like to play the pokies you know and occasionally have a beer. It's good to support the local, this one is nice and close to home, I can walk here and back."

Another Malfroy's customer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he'd had a great day reading the newspaper and having a beer.

"I can get a nice big bottle of beer here. I came here before the lockdown, I've been coming here for years. It's always important, if you're a local, to look after your local business people," he said.

When talking about bars and pubs reopening during today's daily Covid-19 press conference, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said people should support those businesses.

But he said this was not the time to try out "any new dance moves" that one might have learned during lockdown. He asked people to give correct details to bars and restaurants.

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