After nearly two years of alert levels, stores opened to the new traffic light system on Friday.
Auckland city center has felt some relief from the lockdown as restaurants and cafes have also reopened to catering customers.
“It’s very busy in the stores right now and there is a very positive vibe,” said Edward Caughey, general manager of Smith and Caughey’s department store.
It operates under the red level, which is in place in Auckland, Northland, and an area across central North Island from Whanganui in the west, through Taupō and to the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne in the is.
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The rest of the country is orange.
In both red and orange, stores, including open-air farmers’ markets and banks, will have capacity limits based on the 1m distance rules. They can choose whether or not to use the vaccine pass system, but this will not change the capacity limits.
Smith and Caughey’s had chosen to require all customers to present their vaccination cards upon entry – but that hadn’t hampered business, Caughey said.
“We choose to operate as a vaccine pass company to provide the highest level of protection and peace of mind to our staff and customers.
“Additionally, as a large destination store with a number of hospitality, close contact and event elements inside, we need to operate as a vaccine pass business in order to be able to operate. these things effectively. “
Its online store and contactless click-and-collect service remained open to all customers.
Ballantynes chief executive Maria O’Halloran said vaccine passes would not be required to enter stores in Christchurch and Timaru, which are in orange.
But they will be required at Kin Bistro and Winebar, tearooms and JB’s Café, Solace Hair and Beauty, Ballantynes tailoring and alteration services, and eyebrow services at the Benefit counter.
Staff in those areas would be responsible for checking and scanning clients’ immunization cards, she said.
Viv Beck, chief executive of the Auckland city center business association Heart of the City, said it was a big day for the city center after 108 days of restrictions.
“As of 9 am today our pedestrian count had increased by 20% compared to last Friday, so this is a good start,” she said.
She hoped to see a buildup of customers throughout the day and weekend.
“While we are realistic that the city is not back to normal yet, we remain optimistic and invite the people of Auckland to step out and support businesses over the coming weeks.”
Chris Wilkinson, chief executive of First Retail Group, said retail was particularly busy across the country on Thursday as people may not have known what the traffic light system would mean to shoppers.
“For some larger format stores, a certain degree of normalcy is returning today, albeit under the new traffic light regime, which will bring back familiar environments for consumers.
“We expect some concern over the next few days as shoppers familiarize themselves with the places they will need to use their vaccination passports like cafes, and which ones they won’t – like many retail stores. . “