Whanganui businesses are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces once again, albeit at a distance.
With all of New Zealand south of Auckland at alert level 3 as of today, local retailers have their contactless systems ready to operate.
Under alert level 3, customers cannot go into a business premises, unless it is a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
Businesses are using online orders, click and collect, deliveries and other contactless methods so they can operate.
Gareth Carter, of Springvale Garden Centre, said they will be running on a click and collect system through their website, which was significantly developed during 2020's lockdown.
"This time our website is a lot more advanced and a much greater portion of stock is on there. We have had a lot of orders come in already actually.
"We will be set up in the carpark and people can drive in at a selected time and our runners can pop it into their boot so they don't have to leave their cars."
Carter said due to the extensive work they did during 2020's lockdown in setting up the website and systems, operating under level 3 should be smooth.
"Having been through it before, we know what to expect and know there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Eyal Ben-Ezra, "The Coffee Man" at Majestic Square, hopes he can catch some of the few people who will be out and about under the eased alert level restrictions.
"The banks are open a few hours a day and some retailers with click and collect, but I will be playing it by ear.
"The thing is people aren't supposed to walk around and grab coffee, it is takeaway. Level 3 is level 4 with takeaways, basically."
During alert level 3 in 2020, Ben-Ezra made about a third of what he usually does as the majority of his customers - office workers and foot traffic - were still working from home.
"If I don't have foot traffic, I don't make any money. It is going to be very interesting to see the next stage and how long we will be at level 3, it is a guessing game."
Dayle Cheatley, of Velo Ronny's Bicycle Store, was looking forward to being in the shop again.
"We are champing at the bit really to serve our customers. We are running a pick up and delivery service of people's bikes and we have a pretty big online presence with our website."
Velo Ronny's will be offering workshop services, click and collect, as well as deliveries through its website or email.
"The good thing is we have good stock. Right before the level 4 lockdown, we have got good stock of kids' bikes, mountains bikes, e-bikes, everything."
Karen Sewell, of Honest Kitchen, said lockdown had felt a lot different this time, with much more uncertainty.
"Last time we were given a bit of time to prepare, whereas this time it was thrown at us pretty fast."
When Sewell heard New Zealand would be moving into level 4 overnight, the team at Honest Kitchen worked a little bit later selling all the food they had to customers and donating the rest to City Mission.
"We were really lucky, but I feel really sorry for businesses who can't do that sort of thing.
"We were humming really nicely before this happened. As we head towards summer we had all these new ideas and stuff we were about to do, and all of a sudden you have to stop."
Sewell said she hoped the Delta variant could be contained and the country could continue the descent down alert levels. A move to level 4 again would be very demoralising.
"You just have to be positive and just hope we are going to get back to normal like we did. There is no point in worrying what could happen, you have to stay positive."
Honest Kitchen has re-opened its website to allow customers to order food for pick-up or delivery, as well as having menus displayed in the windows for people to order at the door.
"It will be limited to start off with as we need to prep everything. We will just carry on and see how it goes. It was pretty steady under level 3 last time, but you don't know this time, it is unknown.
"You just have to make the best of the situation and I think people will be ready to have someone else cook food for them."
Business leaders react to the move to alert level 3:
Whanganui Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Glenda Brown said supporting local would be important at level 3.
"While we have been here before, this is a challenge for our businesses who have to navigate working with two alert levels. Travelling across alert level boundaries is restricted and businesses need to have permission to travel.
"This will be a concern for the supply chain for businesses in our region. We urge everyone to support local to enable our businesses to survive during this time.
"The chamber has been seeking reassurance from the Government about extensions to the business support available. We know this will be vital for many to be able to recover from the decline in income."
Whanganui & Partners chief executive Hannah Middleton said the move to level 3 was certainly welcome.
"We are confident Whanganui's economy can weather this setback and we expect a similar recovery in activity as we saw in 2020 when alert level restrictions were eased.
"Our metrics show that 63.8 per cent of our workforce was able to be operational at level 4, while 84.2 per cent can operate at alert level 3. This number is close to the national average; 62.9 per cent at level 4 and 84.3 per cent at level 3.
"Whanganui's diverse economy stood us in good stead in the wake of 2020's lockdown period and we expect this resilience will help us again.
"Businesses are well versed in the adapted methods of trade necessary at level 3 and we encourage the public to support local businesses when possible."