As New Zealand marks one month under the relative freedom of Covid-19 alert level 1, Whanganui community is still coming to grips with what the future will bring, writes Mike Tweed.
While some are returning to pre-Covid-19 business, others are facing a far more uncertain year ahead.
Since New Zealand's move to alert level 1 on June 9 Liberty Bracegirdle, owner of recycled clothing store Recycle the Label on Victoria Avenue, said business had started to pick up again.
"I was able to launch a website and I did a bit of online trade during lockdown, but that was a bit of a struggle," Bracegirdle said.
"I'm so glad that level 1 came in when it did, and the people of Whanganui have been so supportive.
"You have a lot of people coming in and saying they'll buy and support local, so it's great that they're taking it on board and helping each other out."
Air Chathams chief executive Duane Emeny said the best word to describe their current business was "slow".
"When we started up again in late May we were sitting at about 30 per cent (capacity), and Whanganui specifically has increased to around 40-45 per cent," Emery said.
"We reduced our pre-Covid-19 schedule to 24 flights a week, and we're assessing our sales and revenue on a daily basis," Emeny said.
Emeny said a number of flights in the last two weeks had been downgraded from the 36-seater Saab 340 to their smaller Metroliner aircraft, which had 18 seats.
"A bit of clarity around a bubble with Australia or even the South Pacific would be nice so that people can get away on holiday, but we don't see those numbers rising enough to justify increasing our current flight schedule.
The message from Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall was one of "cautious optimism".
"We should always be mindful of what the economy might do, and how businesses are tracking," McDouall said.
"As a part-owner of a tourist business I can confirm that the bookings are fairly quiet, but I think the key thing is that people have got back into their routines, sports have started, and the fact that schools have opened is a real relief to people."
"A friend of mine said that they missed 2019, but they've learned so much more in 2020.
"That rings true for a lot of us I think."
McDouall said that the influx of New Zealand citizens returning to the country as a result of "the chaos elsewhere" was one positive to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"These are Kiwis returning home, people who have developed pretty impressive CVs and skills.
Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa chairman Pahia Turia, said that the 'new normal' needed to be an improvement on "how we were before".
"I think that we need to think about a number of things in terms of our environmental stewardship and our footprint on the environment," Turia said.
"If we just go straight back to how things were, we've missed a massive opportunity.
"It's whether people are willing to take a deep breath and realise that working 50 hours a week isn't good, for example, or that working from home can be just as productive.
"What are we, as human beings, willing to do?"
Gary Rainey, owner of the Anndion Lodge on Somme Parade, said he wasn't expecting the function and conference part of his business to return to pre-Covid-19 levels.
"That side of things has been absolutely decimated," Rainey said.
"Now with Zoom coming on board, and people being reluctant to get together in groups and travel and spend money, all these factors have culminated in the perfect storm."
Rainey said that the next 12 months that would be "make or break".
"I keep hearing words like 'agile' and 'pivot', but when you're bricks and mortar there isn't so much you can change.
"A really important thing is these shovel-ready infrastructure projects getting up and running, and workers being brought in to do things.
"If other businesses are doing well and getting projects done then we're likely to get some work bookings, and that's what usually gets us through the winter anyway.
Maria Lane Eatery and Bar at Majestic Square owner Bryce Mason said the support from the community in the last month had seen restaurant trade return well.
"Considering the elements of Covid-19 and winter we're tracking well, and we're looking forward to the next phase and heading into spring," Mason said.
General manager of Mainstreet Whanganui, Des Warahi, said the city was tracking well in comparison to other provincial centres.
"We need to keep our eye out and be aware of when those late subsidies close around August and September time.
"For us, we're coming into our main event season and we're looking forward to that.
Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson said they had been fortunate as a district to not have had any active cases, so going back to level 1 felt like going back to where they were well before the lockdown.
"A number of businesses within the district are struggling because of the lack of tourism, but the biggest effect at the moment is not Covid-19 but is, in fact, the drought and change in season and climate," Watson said.
"That is very significant for us, especially in the northern areas where it's suddenly got cold and we're not going to get grass growth."
"For that reason and the fact that the wage subsidy will run out, we know the pressure is really going to come on us over two to three months' time.
"There are going to be some harsh reality checks."
Watson said that was why he had set up the Mayor Relief Fund, which was going through it's final stages, and that he hoped to have information out soon about how people could apply.