With every sip of his soy latte and each mouthful of his breakfast burrito, Mike Strachan could feel "immense" relief from the pressure of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The pharmacist was one of many of the region's double-vaxxed citizens who ventured out for a brew or a bite to eat on Monday, after the stay-at-home orders introduced in August ended.
Owners of cafes and eateries have welcomed the boost in trade, with customers allowed in to sit and enjoy their cuppa for the first time in more than two months.
"Just to get out, sit around the table and have a chat; to have other people around you - the relief from the pressure and tension of lockdown is just immense," said Mr Strachan, who met his two brothers for brunch at Three Monkeys on Darby Street - one of them, Ant, is a co-owner of the cafe.
"I think it's one of the insidious things about lockdown, you don't realise how much you actually miss those sorts of things until you get them back. Just having a community of people around you, it just brings you back to life again."
Three Monkeys co-owner Nic Williams said all the cafes along the popular Cooks Hill dining strip were busy on Monday morning.
"Everyone's in such a great mood," he said. "We're looking forward to the 1st of December when restrictions ease a little more."
In Newcastle's East End, people were waiting at the door of Bolton Street Pantry when staff arrived to open on Monday morning.
"There's an exciting buzz around," owner Johnathon Casey said. "It's a big relief. It's definitely lifted and we're ready for it."
Mat Austin, who runs The Barn at Adamstown, said trade was up despite the wet weather.
He said his customers were enjoying being able to sit and enjoy their hot beverage out of a real (non-disposable) cup.
"I think everyone's been looking forward to eating someone else's cooking," Mr Austin said.
Meanwhile, Suspension Espresso in Islington remains a takeaway only venue for the immediate term and management will reassess in the next few weeks.
"We just wanted to take the pressure off the staff," manager Lucy Kallinis said.
"We were just predicting that it would probably be really busy, it could be difficult if customers were not wanting to follow the rules."
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