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And we’re off … at Level 2

Queen St in Masterton was packed with shoppers on Thursday. PHOTOS/EMILY IRELAND

Back to ’normal’


As queues of people grew restless outside banks in Masterton on Thursday, one small business owner was happy to see the town buzzing again.

Jodie Wyeth’s coffee cart, Wonderland Coffee, had only been in business for three weeks before covid-19 hit.

“We went to the bank, asked for a loan, and we got it.

“Then lockdown happened.

“We have been closed for the past two months and started up again today – it’s been crazy busy which is great.”

Scattered around town, some residents were sporting slick new hairdos – finally able to get a hair chop after several weeks.

Jordan McDowall of Barbershop Jordy transforming client Ken Clarkson of Masterton.

Barbershop Jordy’s Jordan McDowell said it was his pleasure to be able to rid the town of “seven-week-old mops”.

His barbershop takes bookings only, and there were no vacant times until next week.

The plus side of the booking system was that there was no queuing at the door.

Other barbershops were met with lines of unkempt residents when they opened on Thursday.

Hairdressers were also flat out.

Their clients were not as keen to be photographed by the Times-Age – at least not until their roots had been touched up.

At Caci skin clinic in Masterton, its staff were happy to be back working.

Owner and registered nurse Jess Whyte said they had missed seeing everyone in the clinic but had used the lockdown to upskill.

She said a few customers had been “hanging out for their botox”.

Also ready to tackle Level 2 was Angela McLachlan, the owner of The Sanctuary Masterton.

Smiling from ear to ear, she exclaimed that the vibe of day one in Level 2 was “excitement, happiness, smiles, and joy – it’s overwhelming”.

Customers were pleased to be met with the store’s familiar smells of incense, candles, and oils.

She and Michelle Watt had marked the store out to allow for social distancing for shoppers – they had placed a limit of 10 customers at a time.

At the northern end of Queen St, Stephen Shivas of Selah Music Works was embracing Level 2 but was concerned about the future of many retailers.

“We’re not out of the woods,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good two months before we start seeing people shut doors.

“We’re just holding our breath – it could go either way.

“It’s really now about supporting local and getting the economy going rather than sitting on their money.”

The biggest seller had been guitar strings – “it all seems to be people who broke their strings on the second day of lockdown”.

In Greytown, a clear and sunny autumn day brought new life and vigour to the town’s main drag.

The shopping village that had felt eerily empty during lockdown reopened for people who looked happy to be sitting outside together at the White Swan for lunch or strolling through the chic clothing boutiques, which were finally able to open their doors for the first time in seven weeks.

Tina Dunlop the owner-operator of Shalari Boutique Lingerie said four women had come into her specialist bra-fitting store before midday desperately in need of her expertise.

Just outside Greytown at The Big Apple, owners Sam and Karla Hunter said they were lucky to get through lockdown because of a separate home kill business that was deemed an essential service.

The couple have owned and run the business in Greytown for 15 years and opening the doors again on Thursday felt as exciting as the first day they opened

Carterton businessowner Joanne O’Brien of ‘Naturally 4 U’ had “lots of foot traffic” on Thursday as residents headed to the cafes and salons in town.

Vinnies Carterton manager Giles Kendall-Carpenter said he had been open since 8.30am and lots of people had already been in for their “op-shop fix” – which many customers who overheard his interview agreed with.

Further south, Featherston playground had children screeching down the flying fox and all over the jungle gym, and across the road, the library was finally open.

Librarian Liz Stevens issuing Guadalepe Portales her first library book in seven weeks. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

At the library the head librarian Penny Griffin said she was worried people were running out of books.

During the lockdown, she and other librarians posted videos of them reading children’s picture books.

At the library, Bridget Portales said her daughter Guadalepe was very excited to be back and had been talking “a great deal” about going to the library “all day long”.

In Martinborough there was a rush for the hairdresser and for some, to that first cold pint.

At The Martinborough Hotel, Claire Duncan from Scotland took her first sip of a pint of Tui in many, many weeks and declared it was “fabulous”.

Cool Change Bar and Eatery opened at 4.30pm and were turning people away before then.

Owner-managers Helena Oscitowska and partner Jimmy McKinnel had a hand sanitiser pump designed in time for the opening and spent the afternoon briefing staff on social distancing.

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