Aucklanders craving the choice of any food not cooked by themselves and a classy barista-made coffee sprang into action today to support their local providers.

The move down from Level 4 at 11.59 pm last night to COVID-19 Level 3 prompted people to queue for a fast food fix outside McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s and Burger King drive thru outlets across the region.

Cafes and restaurants have also responded by opening under the level’s contactless service rules, providing everything from pizzas, quiche, kebabs, and sausage rolls, to gourmet pies, Asian dumplings, curries and poke bowls – in a bid to regain lost income from the strict five week lockdown.

As many as 300,000 people are expected to head back to work over the coming days with hospitality outlets hoping to bounce back from a bleak winter of restriction.

A move down to alert Level 3 offers a small glimmer of hope for the industry, however, hospitality specific financial relief is now long overdue, says Marisa Bidois of Restaurant Association.

“It’s a relief to see Auckland coming down to alert Level 3 and we know many will be keen to get back into their businesses again and reconnect with customers.

“However, while some businesses can start trading again, takeaway is not viable for all businesses. For those that are able to adapt to takeaway, their takings are typically 40-60 per cent down on normal revenue.

“What we’d now like to see is our businesses being able to get back to work as we move down the alert levels but also the right financial support offered to those that most need it.”

Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3 for at least two weeks with a review of the decision on Monday 4 October.

Nicky Partridge said she was very excited to reopen Street Organics cafe in Takapuna. “If the cafe just breaks even, it would still be worth it,” she said.

“A lot of our customers are really missing what we provide, so they are just hanging out for a beautiful barista-prepared coffee and some are just wanting anything they haven’t cooked for themselves, knowing that it’s healthy and nutritious using whole foods.”

In Ellerslie, the main street almost resembled normality as three cafes, an Indian takeaway and a local pizza restaurant enjoyed the patronage of loyal locals. In Mt Wellington, the popular Lunn Avenue strip of small franchise holders including Pita Pit, St Pierre’s and Dunkin Doughnuts were all enjoying a resurgence as a steady stream of patrons queued patiently for their favourite fix.

Melba open for business in Ellerslie under Level 3 rules.

Sandringham’s Electric Chicken owner Matt Fitzgerald said the business would not even break even but would still open from Thursday, however, he was closing his other takeaway store, Taco Beer, as it had been losing money.

Alert level 3 might mean a little more freedom to buy takeaway food but the government has also introduced heavier fines for non-compliance to the rules.

For people who ignore the rules, punishments have just got a lot stiffer – fines of up $12,000 can now be imposed by the courts. On the spot notices have gone from $300 to $4000. Businesses that breach the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act now risk a fine of up to $15,000.

What you need to know about operating at Level 3:-

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