Clubs across the Illawarra reopened their doors to their loyal customers on Monday morning, albeit with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place.
The state government eased COVID-19 restrictions at a host of venues including restaurants, pubs, chapels and beauty salons from Monday.
For the first time in months, people had the freedom to go to their local recreational or bowling club for a beer, meal or to gamble.
Under the regulations, different sized clubs are allowed up 50 people or more.
One of the larger Wollongong clubs, Steelers opened the doors at 11am with loyal members trickling in early.
General manager Sharon Arrow said a lot had changed at the popular venue but staff and patrons were happy to be back.
"There were smiles, laughter and it was great to welcome people, many of whom met up with friends for the first time in weeks," she said.
Ms Arrow said the club had implemented several measures to keep staff and patrons safe.
"We have table service so people don't have to approach the bar; there are hand sanitiser stations around the club; there is a sign in and out register so we know how many people are on the premises as well as clear signage," she said.
"There are sneeze shields up at reception, the furniture is spread out and we have a maximum of 50 people able to book for dinner, and another 50 people are allowed in the gaming rooms and sports bar.
"Every second poker machine has been turned off and the stool removed."
Ms Arrow said the club had rostered on more staff and there was CovidSafe marshalls on the premises to enforce social distancing and to clean down bathrooms, poker machines, handrails and other high contact areas.
Meanwhile, the "sounds and energy that Wests Illawarra normally has was slowly returning" on Monday, said Aster Group's executive officer Daniel Munk.
"All of our team have been trained in the requirements and checklists to complete throughout their shift, while CovidSafe marshalls are also roaming," he said.
"We are really pleased with the positive attitudes of our members complying with the new changes.
"Currently the maximum capacity of people in specific areas in the club is 50 and we have multiple areas open.
"Our approach to re-opening is in stages and continually adding more offerings as restrictions ease."
Thirroul Bowling Leagues and Recreation Club general manager Michelle Litscombe said it was "nice to be back in business".
"Everyone who came in on Monday was complying with restrictions and used the hand sanitiser," she said.
"We also recorded the details of everyone to know how many people were on the premises. The furniture has been spaced out and every second poker machine can be used.
"The full restaurant will be open on Wednesday.
"We will see what works and make changes as we go but we hope to keep the measures simple and consistent."