Alert level 1 is "great news" for hospitality operators and retailers but people need to come back into the office, an Auckland business association says.
Auckland dropped to COVID-19 alert level 1 at 12pm on Friday, following a week of level 2. It's been 14 days since there was a community case of COVID-19 - the virus' incubation period - linked to the Papatoetoe cluster.
CEO of Takapuna Beach Business Association Terence Harpur says they are "thrilled" to be back in level 1.
"Latest numbers have really been showing level 3 and level 2 even have been an absolute killer over the last month."
Takapuna's latest Marketview weekly report revealed spending in Takapuna on hospitality and accommodation was down 74.4 percent, while spending on clothing at department stores was down 78.8 percent.
But despite restrictions relaxing, Takapuna's CBD is still seeing a significant reduction in foot traffic - Harpur putting it down to the number of people choosing to work from home.
"A lot of people are still working from home which means we're having less people in our town centres which of course, is really hard on the businesses."
He says the increase in offices giving employees the option to work from home regardless of alert levels is having a "dramatic" effect on hospitality and retail spend.
"Working at home one to two days a week, that's resulting in about 20 to 30 percent less office workers in town centres.
"That's where they get their lunch, that's where they go shopping after work, that's where they go and socialise as well after work, so if they're working at home they're not doing that in the town centres."
Prior to Auckland's most recent level 3 lockdown, Harpur says Takapuna businesses faced the same issue.
"Even before that [March lockdown] in level 1 we were still seeing about a 10 to 15 to 20 percent drop in retail spend."
Harpur wants to see the "great numbers" Takapuna businesses draw on the weekend translate into weekdays as well.
"We're seeing great support from Aucklanders coming to Takapuna - we want to encourage our officer workers to come here during the week again and keep coming back."
"Working from home is great," he added, "but now's the time to come back to the office and support your fellow businesses around you."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has faced criticism from hospitality owners for the delay in announcing the shift, leaving many scrambling to prepare for a weekend in level 1.
Cabinet met on Thursday night to make an in-principle decision on alert levels, the Government waiting until Friday to make the announcement to ensure it had the latest COVID-19 test results.