In cool, wet conditions on Monday, New South Wales took its first steps out of lockdown, with gyms, cafés and hairdressers opening to the fully vaccinated.
But the weather did not stop people flocking to what they’d missed for nearly four months: gyms were busy, cafés were pumping and there were lines out the door for barbershops.
‘This weather has been helping us’:
John Lapouris, who manages Against the Grind in Sydney’s Neutral Bay, told The Australian Financial Review there had been a lot of anxiety ahead of reopening but it was great to be back.
“I think this [rainy] weather has been helping us. It’s a little quieter than what we expected,” he said. “We thought about not reopening, but we ultimately chose to open back up again.”
Mr Lepouris said he had almost gotten used to lockdown and wasn’t sure how he would handle a return to “full tempo.”
His staff were quick to get vaccinated, but there had been nerves about what to say to unvaccinated customers.
“We didn’t want to become police officers, figure out if someone’s been vaccinated or not been vaccinated and chasing away customers we’ve had for years,” Mr Lepouris said.
Luckily though, there were no problems on Monday morning.
Hosting a tea party for friends:
For five-year-old, Paris Sarkis, this lockdown has felt like “a million gajillion days” as she welcomed friends to her home.
To celebrate the end of lockdown, she hosted a kids’ high tea party at her home at Condell Park in Sydney’s south-west.
Her mother, Sophia, told ABC News the girls were “over the moon” to be finally reunited.
“Last night my daughter couldn’t sleep, she was counting the hours and was like, ‘Mummy, is it time yet? I can’t wait to see my friends’,” she said.
“This morning when they showed up at the door, they were jumping and hugging each other, screaming out loud.
“It was happy chaos!”
‘Long time coming’:
Billy Diacos, who owns the Billy the Greek restaurant in Sydney’s north west, told A Current Affair on Monday night it was ‘fantastic’ to have customers again because it was ‘a long time coming.’
But he said that while he’s back open for business, he’s not yet at full capacity because of lingering COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve got to stick to the four-square metre rule,” Mr Diacos said.
“So at the moment we’ve got about 14 people here and that’s about all we’re allowed inside, and outside we’ll most probably have about 10 to 12 people.”
Mr Diacos’ wife built a special reception area at their Dural restaurant, which is where she does all the check-ins for customers who enter.
“We have the QR codes, we have the sign-in books, and we got the customer here showing my wife (his) vaccination certificate,” he said.
The restaurant owner went on and said he’s not concerned about having to turn away people who aren’t vaccinated because he believes his community will “do the right thing.”