Wagga businesses and leaders have welcomed the lifting of stay-at-home orders in the Riverina from 12.01am on Saturday.
On Thursday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that low-risk LGAs who have not had any COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days will emerge from lockdown this weekend, though strict restrictions will remain in place.
Businesses and venues permitted to reopen include hospitality, retail and personal services.
Romano's Hotel was working overtime to get ready for the weekend on Thursday afternoon. Owner Mathew Oates said they would have appreciated more notice from the government, but were very relieved by the decision.
"We are madly cleaning and making sure everything gets done in time," Mr Oates said. "We've spent three weeks wishing we were open and now we wish we had an extra day to be ready.
"A little bit of extra time would have been good, but it's just great to be open."
The Curious Rabbit Cafe's Vickie Burkinshaw said she was thrilled with the announcement, and would open the doors at midnight on Friday if she could.
"I'm so pleased we don't have to cancel so many events we have coming up, and we'll be open from Saturday."
She and others said they are already fielding reservation requests just an hour after the official announcement came through.
The Red Steer Hotel's Ben Stratton said they are "ecstatic" over the news.
"We're ecstatic and thrilled to hear the news that we're going to open up," Mr Stratton said.
"There was a lot of uncertainty about the decision but now we are aiming to open up on Saturday and we're looking forward to returning back to some kind of normality."
Mr Stratton said he was happy with the restrictions, including one person per four square metres indoors and one per two square metres outdoors.
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Wagga Business Chamber's Serena Hardwick said the announcement is a much-needed boost for the whole business community and agreed the announced restrictions are practical for businesses.
"This is very good news," Mrs Hardwick said. "I think this will be a well-welcomed lifting of restrictions, we are happy with anything that gets doors open at this point."
"I think the 4sqm rule was to be expected and it's nice to see the outdoor limits reduced, I think that's definitely something businesses can work with at this time."
However, not all business owners will be throwing doors open.
Mock Orange's Roslyn Mitchell said while the announcement is great for retail and other businesses, she won't be opening this weekend out of concerns around the safety of dine-in venues.
"I'm excited and happy for retail but for me, running a dine-in cafe with strangers mixing together is a concern," Ms Mitchell said. "I don't want to be the centre of an outbreak when our loved ones who haven't been able to get the vaccine yet are still at risk."
Wagga MP Joe McGirr welcomed the news but was similarly concern about avoiding outbreaks once the rules relax.
"The announcement of an easing of restrictions in our region is going to be a welcome relief for many of us," Dr McGirr said.
"The lockdown has had a substantial impact on many in our community.
"Indeed, there are many in our state and country still being affected. But the lockdown has, I believe, been effective in keeping the COVID-19 virus out of our area."
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has warned the emergence of a case in an LGA that is released form lockdown on Saturday will lead to a minimum 14-day lockdown, something Dr McGirr warned the community must be vigilant to avoid.
"Now that restrictions have been eased, we need to remain vigilant and follow all of the new rules to ensure that we don't now see a confirmed case in our area," he said.
He also reiterated the need to keep vaccination rates up, as did Wagga mayor Greg Conkey.
Cr Conkey said the news is good but he too remains nervous about potential cases cropping up.
"It's really good news for the city and I'm delighted Wagga has been included," he said.
"Am I nervous? I am extremely nervous, because just one case in this city will result in going back into lockdown for a two-week period."
Cr Conkey said he is looking forward to catching up with family and friends but that he, and everyone else, must be strictly following the rules that are still in place.
"Like everyone, we have a lot of catching up to do, but we'll be complying with all the rules and regulations," he said.
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