Bars prepare for Kiwis looking to hook up when they reopen on Thursday

On Thursday night bars and clubs will reopen around New Zealand for drinks but businesses are worried patrons will be trying to sneak around the social distancing rules.

Grady Elliot, who runs bars in Auckland, Nelson and Blenheim says after weeks in lockdown, he expects plenty of Kiwis will be trying to hook up.

"It's that one drink, two drinks, three drinks - I see someone nice across the other side of the bar and I want to go and talk to them and after another drink, they might go for a peck."

Elliot told RNZ's Morning Report his employees would be reminding customers of the rules but expects it will be hard to control.

"We've got security and we've got duty managers, we had to get an extra duty manager who will be roaming the floor and things like that but it's been 60 days [of lockdown] so people's hormones are going to a little bit through the roof I think.

"We are going to have to go and tap someone on the shoulder and just remind people. We are happy to do that and we are happy to remind people in a nice way but things like that are going to happen and they'll walk outside and take it outside or they'll end up in the toilet."

Midnight Gardener Bar owner Luke Dallow agrees.

"[I'll] maybe put some water between them, I don't know. We have no strategies at all at this stage but we are probably going to tap them on the shoulder and say 'hey, be mindful of COVID-19'," he told The AM Show.

"Inevitably they are going to catch up outside or somewhere else aren't they? 

"I'll tell you what, the toilets are probably going to be very busy."

He says it is a "historic day in hospitality" and he wants customers to make the most of it but also be safe. 

"People need to be mindful of where they sit and they have to police themselves as well. Look we don't want another spike but we do want to create a bit of energy into the nation and bars and restaurants and retail do that."

Under alert level 2, bars will have to operate with a strict set of conditions including limiting the patrons inside to 100 people, and they can only come in groups of 10 or less.

Once inside they will follow the 'three S rules': served by a single waiter, seated and separated, to keep strangers away from each other and minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is also calling on Kiwis to stick to the rules.

"As you will be aware bars and pubs will be reopening today under alert level 2. Mind you, while we remain in alert level 2 they do so with the same requirements already in place for hospitality venues. That is to protect everybody's health and to make sure we are not compromising the gains we have made from COVID-19. 

"So that includes, of course, limiting physical interaction between patrons from different groups and of course between staff and customers. It will be a great chance to catch up with a friend and support local business."

But for those that aren't following the rules, the Police will be out and conducting reassurance patrols.

"Police will be highly visible in our communities and continue with reassurance patrols and visits to many businesses," assistant commissioner Richard Chambers says.

"Our focus is on education. However, serious or persistent breaches of current restrictions may result in enforcement action."

They are also encouraging Kiwis drinking to "play it safe".

"Stick to the rules and have a plan to get home. People should be able to enjoy themselves, but don't go too hard with their drinking."