Foxton Beach man Paul Dodge likes the luxury of being able to order takeaway coffee from The Little White Rabbit again.
A slow trickle turned into a steady stream as people were coaxed out of their lockdown bubble by the thought of their favourite cafes and eateries opening under alert level 3.
Covid-19 restrictions eased on Wednesday as New Zealand, except for Auckland and Northland, dropped from level 4 to level 3 overnight.
The slight easing means stores are able to open for takeaway food and drink, or click and collect. People in Manawatū keenly returned to their locals and traffic picked up during the day, rather than a mad rush in the morning.
Palmerston North’s Cafe Jacko opened at 8am and owner Jacko Stephens had lots of online or phone orders for coffees and food during the morning, as people booked times through the day.
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He had a plastic sheet hung across the cafe entrance and a serving table set up, with cabinet food and drinks in the window.
“It’s our cafe from the door. We try to put everything in place that plays by the rules.”
He has fewer staff working than usual and was offering a truncated menu.
People were pleased to get a hot drink and one customer said he had been hanging out for a long black.
Up the street, Munchkins owner Oleene Wells expected to get some business ahead of Father’s Day and for other family events.
“People order online or by phone. I think they can just come to the door and do a drive-through by shouting at me.”
She said business had been challenging during lockdown because there had been no warning of it.
There was only one car in the drive-through at McDonald’s on Princess St in Palmerston North when the store opened at 7am, but at lunchtime a queue was snaking up the road.
Burger franchises in Palmerston North and Feilding had put out cones in preparation for queues of cars.
Foxton Beach cafe The Little White Rabbit was open in the morning and staff member Louise Davidson said it had mainly been locals coming in. People ordered online or by phone.
Paul Dodge lives down the road and he grabbed two coffees.
“You have your home rituals and you’re making do with the home appliances, it’s not quite the same.
“Going out, there’s that little bit of luxury and comfort.”
It wasn’t just coffees though, as a queue had formed at Hammer Hardware in Foxton.
John Davenport was on the door ensuring people followed the one-in, one-out system. People could pre-order then come and collect their purchase.
He said people were buying a lot of paint, while other customers bought tile adhesive and seed potatoes.
By mid-morning Levin had picked up. State Highway 1 was busy with cars and lots of people coming into town for a walk or to go to the shops.
Paper Plus was running a click-and-collect system, with store owner and Horowhenua mayor Bernie Wanden on the door.
Some people wanted books, but others were trying to use the store’s post shop. Wanden said the phone had been running off the hook with people wanting to come in.
“It’s good to be able to be out and doing something. By all means hopefully in a week’s time [we] might be back to some sort of normality.”