Whanganui leaders have welcomed a move to alert level 2 on Thursday as "the right decision".
New Zealand will move to alert level 2 from Thursday when retail, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinema and other public spaces can re-open. All require physical distancing.
Friends and family can also be reunited from Thursday in what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says "is a transition out of our bubbles".
Schools re-open on Monday.
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall said it was "the right announcement".
"I think it's appropriate to start school on Monday and I'll be echoing a lot of parents in saying that the kids are champing at the bit and while most of them in my experience have been pretty self-directed, they just want to get back and see their friends," he said.
McDouall is planning on having some of their closest friends around to their house this weekend for a social gathering, one of which is a teacher who said he needs a couple of days to get prepared.
He doesn't mind having to wait a little while longer to go for a drink at his local bar because when he looks at where the transmission has occurred in New Zealand - at bars and stag dos - he would rather be safe.
"I think the key message I got is the new normal and the overused phrase but if you're feeling sick get yourself tested."
McDouall has already planned to go to the movies next week.
"Domestic travel is now allowed and that's really, really cool and my appeal to everybody in Whanganui is support Whanganui businesses but equally if you've got relatives up in Auckland feel free to get on Air Chathams and head up and see them.
"I think it's important to re-affirm those bonds because we've existed six and a half weeks kind of in our bubbles we've become like hermits, we need to break out of that."
Mainstreet Whanganui general manager Des Warahi said the decision was "a very good measured approach".
"What I'm liking is seeing the tier movement down," he said. "I was really impressed with how local businesses adapted under level 3. My heart goes out to the ones who haven't been opened in six-and-a-half weeks. The hairdressers, bars, chiropractors etc.
"There will be some clear messages how that will look for them in level 2 and we have been working really hard on our Aroha campaign."
Warahi said the businesses who had been out for six weeks will need as much support as possible.
Warahi said Mainstreet Whanganui will operate in the same capacity under level 2 as they did under level 3.
Whanganui Emergency Operations Centre controller Stuart Hylton said it was great most places could re-open on Thursday.
"The interesting one, I guess, will be on May 21 when bars can open, but I'm not too sure what that means as some bars are also food premises and cafes so obviously the licensing aspect will need to be looked and see who can open for what," he said.
"The EOC is still operating under the state of the national emergency so we will continue to support that from a local level.
"Still doing the things we're already doing in terms of contact tracing, testing, compliance monitoring but we are more focusing on the recovery and what that looks like for our community."