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Central Otago publicans will reopen their doors to all patrons today, including those who want to enjoy a drink after work at their favourite bar.

For the past week bars could serve alcohol only to people who were dining, but now those restrictions have eased.

Bar managers and owners across Central Otago were pleased to know they would no longer have to turn anyone away, unless they reached the maximum limit of 100 people allowed in premises at any one time.

Sharyn and Eugene Whakahoehoe, who took over the running of the Commercial Hotel in Omakau on February 29, are among those looking forward to lesser restrictions.

They have spent the past few weeks offering a takeaway delivery option and were last week following Alert Level 2 guidelines to patrons wanting to dine in.

Today they can serve people who just want to enjoy a drink without a meal.

‘‘We are still committed to providing quality service for our community, as well as welcoming guests from afar,’’ Mrs Whakahoehoe said.

The couple have big plans for the business, which they have worked on during lockdown, including a craft brewery tap room in the stables and a smoked meats barbecue menu.

Naseby’s Royal Hotel owners Jan Rutherford and Adrian Hood are also looking forward to welcoming patrons back to the bar today for a meal, drink or both.

Fewer barriers meant fewer complications, Mr Hood said.

‘‘There’s so many rules and regulations anyway and the emphasis is back on us all the time. The less of those the better,’’ he said.

‘‘We want to see people out there enjoying themselves, too. It’s been a hard few weeks for everybody.’’

A return to socialising, within the guidelines, would be a good thing, especially for those who were struggling and wanted someone totalk to, he said.

Chatting over a beer could reopen lines of communication, which would be particularly important for anyone struggling.

‘‘[People might say] have you heard about this, you can get help from here or we can help you out,’’ Mr Hood said.

‘‘That’s what these smaller communities are good at.’’

Cardrona Hotel publican Cade Thornton was also looking forward to reopening from tomorrow.

‘‘For the next six weeks we are opening Fridays at 3pm to late and then all day on Saturday and Sundays.’’

The ultimate aim was to keep people happy, he said. ‘‘We’re looking forward to having usual faces back in.’’

Normal opening hours were expected to resume by about June 19.

The hotel’s accommodation was also in demand, which would help keep the team busy in the coming weeks, he said.

In Cromwell, The Gate had provided takeaway meals at Alert Level 3 and dine-in meals from last Thursday.

Operations manager Tia Gable said it would reopen its bar as of today, while ensuring all precautions were followed.

‘‘[We want to] make sure everyone is safe.’’ Staff were looking forward to resuming business and regaining loyal local support across all facets of the company.

Monteith’s Brewery Bar Alexandra owner Mike Wood said it would be great to see people today and hoped the business’s busy Friday nights would eventually also resume.

‘‘We’re just looking forward to getting the regular crowd back in,’’ Mr Wood said.

‘‘It will be good to get out and sit with a mate and have a few quiets and just catch up.’’

Alert Level 2 rules for bars
– Keep 1m apart
– Wash your hands often
– No more than 10 people to a table
– Record customer details for contact tracing