Epicentre of COVID-19 cluster still on edge as Auckland drops to level 2

Auckland dropped to alert level 2 at 6am on Sunday, allowing a set of new freedoms, but the epicentre of the latest outbreak in south Auckland is still on edge, and business owners are worried customers won't return. 

Many Aucklanders were making the most of level 2 - rushing out for brunch and indulging in much-needed retail therapy - the lockdown lap of the block feeling that little bit sweeter this morning now they can pop their bubble. 

Although retailers in the epicentre of the latest COVID-19 cluster - Papatoetoe - are not optimistic. 

Jai Gopal, who owns a sari store in the suburb, is concerned.

"People are scared to come here, I don't know what people are thinking now."

And the apprehension is obvious at Hunters Plaza - the mall that was a location of interest in the latest outbreak, after the index case, a 21-year-old man, visited twice while infectious. More are wearing masks at the mall than anywhere else in Auckland. 

Confidence could come after the country marks its seventh day with no new community case; these businesses are banking on it staying that way. 

In other parts of Auckland, it's quite the change from last weekend, where cafes like Kind in Morningside were suddenly forced to close, missing out on their biggest day of trade. 

"Last Sunday we lost a considerable amount of money," says manager Cathie Cottle.

"It's quite sad to be here and just to have customers dribble in every now and then for a takeaway coffee."

It's now hoping to make that money back, on its spaced-out tables.