Auckland officially moved into alert level 3 at midnight – and some city residents immediately celebrated by enjoying coffees and takeaway food.

From 11.59pm Tuesday, the city shifted to level 3 for two weeks. The rest of New Zealand – other than a small pocket of Waikato in “bespoke level 4” – remains at level 2.

There were about 80 cars in line for McDonald’s on Lincoln Road just after 12.30 am.

The line was so long it was spilling onto Lincoln Road and filled up the carpark.

Elaichi – a cafe in Sandringham – opened its doors at midnight, with four people in line to get a warm drink and a bite to eat.

Cafe worker Mahiam Sen said the business decided to open after running a poll on their social media.

The shop has vegetarian and vegan snacks, hot drinks and Indian snacks on the menu.

By 12.07am, the cafe had two orders.

Jay Bahn decided to head out after missing his coffee for the past five weeks.

“I’m just excited to get some coffee,” he said.

Bhan’s mother made sure that before he left home he took note of her order – a cappuccino and a few Indian snacks.

Afnan Haider and Maisam Abbas – of Glen Eden Kabab on Glendale Rd in Glen Eden – also opened to the public at midnight.

They described the level 4 lockdown as extremely difficult for their small business.

One West Auckland resident arrived at McDonald’s on Lincoln Road just after 11pm to wait for a late-night snack. They weren’t alone – by 11.30pm at least five other vehicles were waiting for the drive-through to open at midnight.

“We just came for a feed,” she said.

“The masses will be out tomorrow so we thought just come in when we can, while everyone is sleeping.”

Meanwhile, a number of cars went to McDonald’s Mt Roskill to find the store was not open. A sign taped to one of windows says the fast food store will open at 6am.

McDonald’s says exactly when its restaurants in Auckland open will depend on how quickly each can get everything back up and running.

Some were expected to have food ready to go not long after midnight, but others would not open until between 5am and 7am today.

“Around 50 Auckland restaurants will be working to open through the night and before 7am, and will initially operate with a restricted menu,” a spokesman told the Herald yesterday.

Part of the preparation was around traffic management, the spokesman said, acknowledging high levels of traffic congestion in and around takeaway stores after the previous level 4 lockdown.

KFC lovers of West Auckland might have to wait until the morning for their fix, but KFC Lincoln Road do have road cones set up to help with any overflow.

Those heading to the local drive-through are asked to remember to wear a mask.

“Level 4 has done the job we needed it to do … level 3 is not opening up,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

“Level 3 is still ‘stamp it out’.”

While cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open in level 3, all purchases, pick-ups and delivery must be contactless.

Small events like weddings and tangihanga are now allowed in level 3, with up to 10 people only.

Level 3 also brings some good news to the keen surfer or mountain biker. Activities such as surfing, tramping, horse-riding and mountain biking are allowed in level 3, as long as you are experienced – and local.

If you are heading to the likes of KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jnr and Taco Bell, do not forget your Eftpos card. They will not accept cash under alert level 3.

KFC will offer a slightly reduced menu, a spokesman for Restaurant Brands said.

“Burgers will be phased in over the next couple of days. This is simply due to product delivery times,” he said.

Domino’s Pizza is celebrating Auckland’s move to level 3 by offering customers a free lava cake with every $20-plus delivery order tomorrow.

The company’s general manager, Cameron Toomey, said they wanted to celebrate and recognise the effort Aucklanders had made the last few weeks to help control the spread of Covid-19.

One punter is so eager to get their hands on some fried chicken they early last night pitched a tent on the grass next to the Papakura KFC in a bid to get to the front the queue.

A video posted to TikTok shows a small blue tent a few metres from the drive-thru speaker.

“People camping out waiting for KFC to open tomorrow,” the woman filming the video says. “Bring on level 3!”

The hungry Aucklander’s move lit up social media and many dived in to poke fun at those desperate for some takeaway.

The appeal of KFC was all too much for some. Two gang associates were this week arrested at the southern Auckland border with a boot full of KFC trying to get back into Auckland.

Officers became suspicious of a vehicle on a gravel road and pulling a U-turn before speeding off, trying to evade police.

The vehicle eventually pulled over and police discovered it had been travelling from Hamilton trying to get into Auckland, a police spokesperson said.

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