Religious leaders overjoyed at easing of coronavirus alert level 2 restrictions

The new social gathering restriction of 100 people has been described as feeling like Christmas, with worshippers overjoyed they can gather together again.

At midday on Friday, the new level 2 restriction came into effect.

Later the same day worshippers returned to Al Noor Mosque for Friday prayers for the first time since lockdown began in March.  

Muslim Association Canterbury President Mohamed Jama says it's an amazing feeling.

"Big, big, big feeling you know the celebration of Christmas Day," he said. 

Wedding bells are also ringing again for couples who've had to postpone.

Lynn McKinney owns Christchurch wedding supply hire company Something Borrowed Something New - and she says the lifting of restrictions have made a big difference.

"The mood is really great, we've had numerous people in since we found out that we could have 100 people at a ceremony," she told Newshub. 

There 's more good news for people attending weddings this weekend too - dancing is allowed - but those going to bars will have to wait a bit longer to hit the dance floor as patrons will still need to be seated and separated.

Most of Dunedin's 20,000 students are back in town, but Otago University is reminding them of their "collective responsibility" by asking students to "be smart" around large gatherings.

Christchurch's Transitional Cathedral is being readied to welcome 100 worshippers on Sunday for the first time since lockdown

Anglican Bishop of Christchurch Peter Carrell says it's hugely exciting.

"We've looked forward to it for a long time and now that it's here it's going to be great!"

The Anglican church is expecting the service to be popular

"it's always good advice to turn up early for church," said Carrell. 

Advice to consider if you're wanting the best seat in the house this weekend.