COVID-19: Southern businesses welcome alert level 2, but ongoing Auckland lockdown still a blow

Businesses are buzzing to welcome customers back through their doors on Wednesday as all of New Zealand outside of Auckland enters COVID-19 alert level 2.

But it's not quite business as usual. Extra restrictions have been added to level 2 due to the danger posed by the Delta variant, such as mask mandates in indoor venues and a 50 person limit - down from 100.

Rachel Gould, from Christchurch's Riverside Market, says there's been some logistics required to cater for the new rules.

"We have a lot of additional signage going up and we're just spacing out our seating and our food court area to comply," she told Newshub.

Regardless, Gould said vendors were grateful to be back in business again.

"I think everybody's very happy to be moving into level 2. Even though it's still very restrictive, it's obviously a lot better than level 3."

But Nick Inkster, the owner of Christchurch bar OGB, said the ongoing lockdown in Auckland was a blow.

He told The AM Show Aucklanders were a large percentage of his patronage.

"The midweek nights we get by with a lot of corporates from Auckland, so really the weekend we're relying [on] and hoping the locals will come out and really support."

But Inkster said he was positive about the move to alert level 2 - given his venue caters for indoor and outdoor patrons.

"It's all positive - if nurses can wear masks I'm sure the hospitality staff can wear it behind the bar and serving customers," he added. "It's a little bit of pain for a big gain just to reopen and get some revenue - get the tills ringing again."