BUSINESSES that have been closed or have had limited operations during lockdown have breathed a sigh of relief.
On Thursday it was announced areas in regional NSW, including Leeton shire, would be emerging from lockdown on Saturday at 12.01am.
For many small businesses in Leeton shire that news came as a welcome relief after having to be closed for a month.
Rhonda McCormick owns Leeton's Jack in the Box toy store and said the relief she felt knowing she could once again re-open was immeasurable.
"Small businesses were doing it tough before we were closed completely, so it's excellent news we can re-open again," she said.
"My advice to everyone in Leeton is to remember what it was like when everything was shut and we had no shops.
"If we don't support local, that's what it will one day be like for Leeton indefinitely."
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Leeton's Stir Espresso is also able to welcome back customers for indoor dining on Saturday, although the 4sqm rule was again in place.
Owner Michael Nardi was looking forward to having the buzz and chatter back in the cafe after only being able to do takeaways during lockdown.
"We did what we could in lockdown to sustain our business and really just break even ... I think we were doing around 250 coffees a day," he said.
"That little window of ours was a lifesaver.
"The community has been so supportive.
"We're obviously still restricted in how many people we can have, but we're excited to have dining in back. We just need everyone to keep supporting us and all the businesses in town."
Residents were also keeping the shire's beauty salons and hairdressers phone lines busy once the announcement came through lockdown would be lifting and these services would be available again.
Another popular hub in the community is local licensed premises, such as the Hotel Leeton, which has been surviving on takeaway meals and deliveries during lockdown.
These services are set to continue, but the beers were flowing on Saturday when doors re-opened.
Renovation work is also ongoing at the hotel and residents have been asked to make sure they continue to apply with the rules and restrictions that remain in place when heading to the pub.
"We've got our renovations continuing, COVID restrictions, it's all happening," Hotel Leeton's Hannah Middleton said.
"Everyone was pretty good before lockdown in following the rules, so hopefully that is the same now.
"I think venues like this one are really a place for the community to come together. Obviously it's a place to socialise - it's sporting groups coming here, families and friends for birthdays and anniversaries.
"We're excited to welcome everyone back."
Hospitality venues also continue to be restricted in terms of capacity rules, as well as mask-wearing and checking-in, as are all other businesses.
Residents have been urged to be patient, book ahead where possible and continue to support their favourite local venues and stores.
"We're excited to see everyone again and have those bits of freedom back," Miss Middleton said.
"I think it's a big relief for everyone to have the doors opening again."
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