The Government's Covid-19 alert level 2 announcement on Monday brought a sigh of relief for local tourism operators on Monday night, but there is still a long way to go before they can return to business as usual.
On Mt Ruapehu, Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas will reopen under level 2 rules from today
- weather permitting.
Face coverings are required on all lifts and in queues, and visitors must scan or sign in,
There will be a limit of 3050 people at Whakapapa and 2550 at Turoa.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive Jono Dean said while those numbers were below what they would consider a busy weekend, the capacity limits were above their average daily numbers per side of 1900 guests.
"We've successfully operated at level 2 before so a lot of people know the drill already and we're asking that they stringently follow the alert level 2 guidelines once again," Dean said.
All lifts, including Whakapapa's Far West T-bar and Turoa's Nga Wai Heke chairlift, will be operating if conditions permit.
Dean said there would be no need to book parking under alert level 2.
"RAL will manage the capacity limits as above and operate a one-in, one-out approach to parking if and when that capacity is reached."
Whanganui and Partners strategic lead - visitor industries, Paul Chaplow, said while there would be relief in the change in alert levels, it would not be "business as usual" for the industry just yet.
"Since level 2 looks a little different this time, our visitor industry will be mindful of any changes that affect them and may need to adopt some new measures to make sure they meet the requirements," Chaplow said.
"Masks will be a must for all visitors and staff, and limiting the number of people in an indoor space to 50 will require new measures for some of our operators.
"People have had time to become well accustomed with these measures though, and we expect the public will be supportive."
Whanganui had been in this position before, Chaplow said.
"We've recovered well from the previous lockdown, recording the best tourism growth in the country last year.
"That gives us confidence we can achieve great results again."
Take It Easy Tours director Jason Granville said his business had been shut completely under alert levels 3 and 4.
"We weren't allowed to leave the region, but as far as we know, under level 2 we are able to travel," Granville said.
"It's been nice to be at home with the family, but things were really busy [prior to lockdown].
"Work has taken a bit of a hiding."
Granville said the larger tours that were already booked had been moved to later dates.
"We'll be going down south in late October for about 12 days, then as soon as that ends in Queenstown there's another one the very next day that goes right up the west coast of the South Island.
"Hopefully the alert level will drop down even further, but even at level 2 it's all go."
For Anndion Lodge owner Gary Rainey, Monday's announcement was "a godsend".
The two-week lockdown had cost them six to eight weeks of potential bookings.
"Most of the events that were scheduled for September and October still can't go ahead, so we've lost out big time on that, but at least at level 2 we can trade as per normal," Rainey said.
"Today, we've had five or six bookings already, and obviously there was nothing during ([levels] 3 and 4.
Those bookings had been by people from out of town, Rainey said.
"There's a golf trip coming down from all over the North Island, and a group bookings from some bowls and cricket guys.
"I think people are getting confident that things will be going ahead.
"Hopefully the town can start rolling again."