After more than 100 days in lockdown, two vivacious drag queens of the Illawarra said 'cheers' to freedom on Monday as pubs, clubs, retail and beauty services reopened across the region.
Roxee Horror and Ellawarra began the day welcoming fully vaccinated patrons into the Wollongong Steelers Club just after the clock struck midnight, before heading to Pepe's On The Beach to encourage those still sitting on the fence about vaccination to "do their bit" as part of the Vax The Illawarra campaign.
"It's really important so Australia can move forward," said Roxee Horror.
"I am so exited to get back out there again and see people and start living the life I've missed for four months, but a part of me is still hesitant - there still could be new cases ... there's still that little bit of a worry."
"I think its really important for us to get the word out there that if we can get the majority of the Illawarra vaccinated we can get fairly back to normal," added Ellawarra.
"It's fantastic now I can get out of the house in drag, I feel a bit like a deer when it's first born and can't walk because I haven't worn heels outside of the house in a very long time."
The pair are the 100th ambassadors to the campaign, which was set up by a handful of business leaders who wanted to see the local economy get back on track, see people return to jobs, children back in classrooms face-to-face and entertainment venues reopen.
"It's a great day for business to be reopened and an opportunity for people to get back into jobs .. but we hope people to continue to follow the Public Health Order," said campaign spokeswoman Vicki Tiegs.
Pepe's already has 300 bookings so far this week and is expected to get "slammed" on the weekend, according to Gavin Loveday, director of sales and marketing.
"Take it easy on the staff, it's been 106 days where most people have been at home and everyone's excited to be back, but just be patient and kind as we're doing our best," he said.
Pepe's is part of the Novotel, and Mr Loveday said they were expecting to see a "strong festive season" for both venues.
"We're seeing the bookings come through more so for November, December when I think people have a bit more confidence," he said. "But we have launched Melbourne Cup events to great success ... and have just launched our Christmas Day [events]."
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