It's 1pm on Thursday and "the joy is palpable" says president of the Bega Chamber of Commerce John Watkin.
The news the Bega Valley was getting its stay-at-home orders lifted came as wonderful news to residents and local businesses alike.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance announced the news in a video posted to his Facebook page around 10.30am, September 16, which was later confirmed by Deputy Premier John Barilaro during the daily media briefing.
Bega Valley, along with Snowy-Monaro and 10 other regional shires had lockdowns lifted at lunchtime Thursday, in Bega's case because two previously reported active cases of COVID-19 in Merimbula were subsequently found to be false positives.
"This is being extremely well received," Mr Watkin said.
"I've spoke to a few in hospitality already in the last couple of hours and they are all stoked to be able to open back up.
"I really feel for those businesses who had to stop people even going in to their stores due to the restrictions - it would certainly have had an impact on sales.
"Now everyone is just thankful to be able to open again, especially at this time of year, with spring weather and sunny days, people want to get out.
"Psychologically it's a real benefit and gives everyone a lift.
"From a personal perspective I think people just want to be able to have friends over for a barbecue, to share a drink or a meal. Just to be able to have that socialisation again.
"And to get a haircut," Mr Watkin added with a laugh.
While the stay-at-home restrictions are being lifted, some restrictions will remain in place Mr Constance said.
"We will be able to see visitation to homes, schools reopen, small businesses reopen," he said.
"But there are going to be a number of requirements in place in terms of restrictions still in place for the community as we move forward to higher vaccination rates across NSW.
"Please continue to be vigilant, please where possible minimise travel. Be aware that COVID is still in and around the region.
"We all have to be mindful regardless of where you live in NSW."
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Merimbula Chamber of Commerce president Nigel Ayling said he was relieved and happy particularly as it meant with the false positive results, the Bega Valley had seen no cases.
"From a chamber point of view, we're very happy to be opening again. The timing is good because we're coming out as we're going into the school holidays," Mr Ayling said.
"They're still discouraging people from travelling, but at least it means the locals can get back out and make the most of the holidays," he said.
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