Coronavirus: Auckland businesses excitedly prepare to welcome back patrons for first time in three months

It's the night before the new traffic light system comes into force, and Auckland businesses are busily preparing to welcome back patrons for the first time in over three months.

Staff at Cafe Hanoi were busy on Thursday taste-testing the summer menu - but it isn't just the food that needs preparing, the staff had a briefing as well.

"There will be people who feel they've been forced to have the vaccination and will resent having to show proof of it up at the laneway, so they might be a little upset," owner Krishna Botica tells her staff.

It's been a long three months and the room is abuzz with excitement. The staff are bracing for the worst but hoping for the best. 

"We've been talking to them and asking them to talk to each other about how to handle certain things, certain opinions that may be thrust upon them," Botica says.

Ponsonby's Chapel Bar and Bistro is also locked and loaded. They're rolling out the green carpet for their patrons, and on Friday, buying a beer there will also get you a haircut.

"Let us groom you for an hour or two over the day," says general manager Warren Stewart.

He says vaccine passports are paramount in keeping their doors open.

"Y'know, we've been in lockdown for 107 days, we've been looking after the community, now it's their time to look after us."

But before any socialising can happen, the first port of call will be to beauty salons where staff have three months' worth of bad eyebrows and grown-out hair to fix.

But not everyone's benefiting from the new traffic light restrictions. 

Since the last day of level 2 means the unvaccinated won't be allowed haircuts from Friday, LOFT hairdressers in Matamata are trying to fit in three times the normal number of clients to try and get these people through.

"I'm losing between 20 to 30 clients who are unvaccinated, who've chosen not to go with the vaccine," says owner Rose Allan.

For the Assembly of God church in Mangere, which was once at the centre of this COVID-19 outbreak, gathering together again comes with mixed emotions.

"Excitement but also uncertainty and caution. A lot of them are really looking forward to coming off the Zoom platforms," says church spokesperson Jerome Mika.

But be it spiritual, physical, or simply emotional rejuvenation, Aucklanders are ready to pick their poison once again.