Singleton community out and about thanks to the new freedoms

The lift of the lockdown last Thursday came as an exciting announcement for the town, with the Singleton community immediately flocked to take advantage of the new freedoms with caution.

Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell welcomed the news after advocating for restrictions to be eased in the Muswellbrook, Dungog, Singleton and Upper Hunter LGAs, but warned people to remain vigilant.

"Before you go and plan a party... we need to remember it will only take a single community transmission for us all to go back into a 14-day lockdown," he said.

The lifting of lockdown restrictions now means up to five visitors are allowed to gather in a home, with up to 20 people able to congregate in outdoor settings. Hospitality venues have reopened subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.

Retail stores, hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and other sporting facilities including swimming pools have also reopened. Weddings and funerals can have up to 50 guests while major outdoor recreation facilities and outdoor events can also return.

Singleton mayor Sue Moore said that she is sure she "speaks for everyone" in the shire that it was welcomed news to come out of lockdown last week.

"Given the commitment of our community to follow NSW Government and NSW Health restrictions and advice, and the very low number of cases in our LGA, I believe it's a sensible decision that brought a lot of relief for our community and especially our local businesses who have been hit particularly hard," she said.

Cr Moore said despite being out of the lockdown, the community cannot afford to be complacent.

"We may be out of lockdown, but there are restrictions that continue to be in place, and we all have a role to play in keeping each other and our community safe, especially through measures such as ongoing social distancing. I also continue to encourage those people who can to be vaccinated in keeping with the Government's advice."

Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane acknowledged the quick turnaround local businesses and organisations made when the announcement to lift the stay-at-home orders.

"Last week's announcement to lift stay-at-home orders in Singleton was unexpected, but we've acted quickly welcome our customers back and keep everyone safe at the same time," he said.

Singleton Council reopened most of their facilities last week including the library, youth venue and customer service in their administration building. Lake St. Clair has also been reopened to local residents and the Singleton Gym and Swim Centre is back in action.

Mr Linnane said Singleton Waste Management Facility had been busier than normal due to the many 'lockdown clean outs'.

"Council is encouraging our customers to continue to make use of Council's services online, including payments or transactions via our online services portal, the Singleton Library Digital Library, lodging a development application via the Planning Portal and lodging a customer request via our online services," he said.

With news of the lockdown lifting at 1pm on September 16, local venues were hot on their heels to respond to the good news, cleaning up, setting up and ordering stock after the long hiatus.

Kyra Webster, owner of The Central Bar & Kitchen, said the good news was well reciprocated by the community and the team at the venue were thrilled to be back behind the bar.

"We had actually started some renovations on the place the day prior to the announcement. So we were quick to turn the place around, get it tidied up, set up and stock ordered ready to open our doors on Friday evening."

The venue opened Friday evening and both Saturday and Sunday and the work didn't stop.

Members of the community were quick to take up the opportunity to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast in their Centrals outdoor garden area and take advantage of their sensational cocktail menu in the later hours of the day.

"We were running around on the Thursday and Friday to get stock sorted, as I imagine all the other venues across town were doing," Ms Webster said.

"We managed to run out of beer kegs on Sunday evening which is a fantastic sign!" With the reopening of venues, patrons are still required to abide to restrictions including one person per four square metres indoors, being seated at all times and wearing a mask when not consuming food or drink.

Everyone who came through our doors on the weekend were great with continuing to abide by the operating rules. We really only had to remind people to pop their masks back on when moving around, which they were all happy to do."

The Central Bar and Kitchen's reservations book is filling up for the upcoming weekend.

For businesses in the hair and beauty industry, booking diaries were quickly filled as many locals were desperate to be back in the salons after six weeks of inaction.

Pure Essence owner and beauty therapist Chantel Merrick said the second the announcement was made her and her team members were straight in the salon from the get go.

"From one o'clock on the dot myself and my apprentice Alex Mulholland were straight in the salon calling our clients who had appointments booked during the lockdown and to get them all rebooked," she said.

"We officially reopened on Friday from 8am and did a huge 13 hour day with clients."

The beauty salon located on John Street was open on both Saturday and Sunday in attempts to catch up on as many missed appointments as possible.

"We were so excited to see our beautiful clients again, making them feel confident again," Miss Merrick said.

"Lockdown was tough on everyone's self esteem, not being able to see their beauty therapist, their hair dresser or their nail person, to be able to lift everyone's spirits again after lockdown is such a feel good thing for us beauty therapists. It reminds us of how lucky we are being in the industry we're in."