A New Zealand barber opened his store as the clock struck twelve on Thursday – the moment the country lifted most of its lockdown restrictions.
Shopping centres, retail stores and restaurants have all been allowed to reopen as of 12.01am, with many people returning their workplaces.
However, most gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines will remain in place under the Level Two restrictions.
Conrad Fitz-Gerald said he received about 50 inquiries for midnight haircuts, but limited the initial customers to a dozen, starting with his 18-year-old son Heathcliff.
The owner of Cathedral Junction Barbers in Christchurch added: “People are saying their hair is out of control, they can’t handle it anymore.
“Lots of parents of teenage kids have been calling up, too, thinking a haircut at midnight would be a great novelty. Unfortunately, we are full up.”
Mr Fitz-Gerald said he was trying to make sure the virus could not spread in his shop, adding he made his own “supercharged” hand sanitiser from isopropyl alcohol and also had masks available for himself and his customers on request.
The reopening of the economy reflects the success New Zealand has experienced in its bold goal of eliminating the virus.
The country reported no new cases of the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday.
More than 1,400 of the nearly 1,500 people who contracted the virus that causes Covid-19 have recovered, while 21 have died.
Most New Zealand schools will reopen on Monday but bars will not reopen until May 21, a decision that was prompted in part by the experience in South Korea, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul.
The nation’s reopening coincides with the release of the government’s annual budget on Thursday afternoon.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Southern Hemisphere nation faces the most challenging economic conditions since the Great Depression.
“New Zealand is about to enter a very tough winter,” she said. “But every winter eventually is followed by spring, and if we make the right choices we can get New Zealanders back to work and our economy moving quickly again.”