More freedom is on the horizon with Whanganui and the surrounding area set to move to the Orange setting of the government's Covid-19 restrictions on December 30.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday the Whanganui, Ruapehu and Rangitīkei Districts will remain at the red level of the framework until the penultimate day of the year, when all three districts will move to Orange.
The decision was made based on a variety of factors including vaccination rates, ICU capacity and the current status of the outbreak, Ardern said.
Reverend Father Vaughan Leslie of the Catholic Parish of Whanganui, said the red light restrictions had a huge effect on the ability to hold services at the three Catholic churches in the city.
"Under red, we have doubled the number of masses we hold to make sure people can come. Four of them follow the vaccine passes, and two of them are no pass required," Father Leslie said.
"Under Red, it is very restrictive with the gathering limits. That's why my hope was for Christmas we moved to Orange, so with the vaccine pass we are able to have unlimited gatherings."
Father Leslie said a sense of confusion still existed among the parish community, even 11 days into the new system.
"There are different limits for vaccine pass mass and non-pass mass. It also becomes difficult for things like Christmas Eve mass where we've had to get parishioners to book places to attend.
"But we'll still have Christmas, and we're all looking forward to it."
All funerals and tangihanga are limited to just 100 people with vaccine passes under Red, but just 25 people if families choose not to use passes.
James Forrest, a funeral director at Dempsey and Forrest Funeral Home said that had led to families having to put together a strict guest list, or even turning people away.
"I did have a service where a lady turned up and she was unvaccinated. The church just didn't allow her to enter and she had to remain outside," Forrest said.
On December 30, the Orange setting of the framework will make life for the vaccinated as close to normal as possible, removing the cap on gathering limits to allow people to mix and mingle freely.
Forrest said the move to Orange would have a huge impact on families, allowing funerals to return to normality, as long as vaccine passes were used.
"Under Orange with the vaccination pass, we can return to unlimited numbers, and it'd be nice to see that back for families who do need more than 100 people there."
Bars, clubs, and restaurants will be able to open to capacity, and dancing your way into 2022 at a local bar will be on the cards, with the ability to get up and move about permitted at the Orange setting.
Caroline Norton, the owner of Caroline's Boatshed said she was "absolutely thrilled" with the less strict traffic light setting.
"We will be here full for New Year's, isn't that just fantastic?"
The boatshed can typically hold upwards of 300 people at full capacity, with Norton saying being limited to just 100 had been tough on business.
"Things have been tough, and it's been very tough on the staff too. So the move to Orange is just so exciting, we can finally leave all of this behind us."
For the unvaccinated, there are small changes to life at Orange compared to Red.
Events choosing not to require vaccine passes will get their maximum capacity boosted from 25 to 50, but social distancing continues to apply.
Those hospitality venues not requiring vaccination passes will continue to operate as they do under Red, with contactless service at the door required.
Remaining in the Red setting for the next two weeks means Whanganui will keep the restrictions of the last fortnight, including gathering limits and vaccination requirements.
That means all gatherings are kept at a maximum of 100 people as long as the host is checking vaccination passports. If not that limit is 25 people.
Social distancing of one metre must also be in place at all gatherings.
Under Red, hospitality businesses choosing not to use vaccination passes must use a contactless service.
Retail operates as normal, albeit with social distancing requirements. Business owners are permitted to make their own call on whether to implement vaccine passes for customers.
Masks continue to remain mandatory in every indoor public space including retail, while outdoor use of masks continues to be encouraged.