The owner of one of Armidale's local pubs was pretty pleased about the end of lockdown - and he wanted to mark the occasion with his patrons.
Harley Payne is the owner of the St Kilda Hotel, and on Friday night, he opened his doors to customers between 12.01 am, and 12.30am.
"If anyone is out and about after midnight, they have 29 minutes to come in before lockout at 12.30am, and then we will stay open until 2.30am," Mr Payne said on Friday ahead of the end of lockdown.
"That gives people the chance to come in and have a beer and experience pub life again. People can't wait until pubs open back up, and this will just give them a little taste of that."
During the lockdown, the St Kilda Hotel had to shut its doors for in-house dining but continued with its food takeaway service.
"It was a way of keeping some of our staff employed and keeping people trickling through the venue," Mr Payne said.
"I think it's important to keep in touch with everyone in the community. Takeaway will still be available, but now the idea is to get the pubs open and get people back for inhouse dining."
Mr Payne said the most challenging thing about the lockdown was the impact on his staff, and he is not looking too far into the future.
"It's disappointing when you don't have employment for your staff, but JobSaver did pick up the loose ends," he said.
"We are just playing it week by week, and we'll see how we go. Hopefully, there won't be another lockdown at all, and as things roll on, we will be looking at entertainment, but it is just trial and error until we get open fully. Because there is still a COVID cloud over all of New South Wales."
Now it will be business as usual - almost.
Masks must be worn, and drinks must be enjoyed sitting down, but at this stage, there is no restriction in terms of those patrons who are vaccinated or not vaccinated against COVID-19, Mr Payne said, although all his current staff have had both doses.
"I am fully vaccinated and I haven't pushed that point to my staff, but I think the majority of them felt they should," he said.
"When NSW Services announce about vaccinated people coming into licensed premises - that will be a totally different story altogether.
"No one knows anything yet - we're waiting for direction from the Australian Hotel Association and state government on that.
"We just hope it doesn't affect our business too much when people are required to be vaccinated."
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