In the quiet country streets of Gundaroo, a little town of some 800 people north of the ACT border, there's unmistakable signs that thirsty locals are readying for a rush on the bar.
From midnight on Sunday, NSW laws will be relaxed to allow up to 50 people on licensed premises and Gundaroo publican Chris "Choppy" Connor said the locals are "chomping at the bit to finally come in for a beer".
"I've been getting phone calls all week; people around here can't wait," Mr Connor said.
"It's been a long, strange eight weeks or so."
The historic Gundaroo pub offers meals so since May 15, restrictions have eased enough to allow up to 10 people to dine in and have a beer from the tap.
"But it's not the same, is it?" Mr Connor said. "Out this way, people don't like to be rushed."
In thousands of small country towns like Gundaroo all around the country, the local pub is always more than cold beer and a Friday night schnitty. It's a meeting place, fireside chat-fest and live music venue; a place of pool comps, meat raffles and a big supporter of local sports and charities.
One such Motor Neurone Disease fundraiser is the annual Gundaroo Music Festival, which has been cancelled this October. However, an important lead-up event, the Gundaroo Emerging Musos, has gone online and will open to entries on Monday.
"We don't normally open Mondays but we're making an exception next week," Mr Connor said.
"There's talk about a reopening party but I'm being pretty cautious about that; we're still going to have to tread carefully. There's still lots of hygiene and social distancing issues to worry about."
Not the least of which is the prospect of a $55,000 fine and a forced closure for any breaches. Tables and chairs were stacked away and the Gundaroo pub's interior format was rejigged for takeaway alcohol sales only, to keep going during the coronavirus restrictions. All but one of the staff had to be laid off when the doors shut, with the remaining on the JobKeeper program.
An unexpected hit with the local community - and many others who logged on to the Facebook livestream - has been the folksy, funny Friday night online meat raffle.
"It was real amateur-hour stuff. It started off with just two of us cracking jokes and carrying on; I've never done anything like it before," Mr Connor said.
"It became a bit of a logistical nightmare trying to film ourselves, tell the jokes, run the raffle and read all the comments coming in so more and more people came on board to help us manage it," Mr Connor said with a laugh.
"It got so big I had to spend most of Friday getting prepared."
Ahead of Monday's opening there will be much shifting of furniture and fridges to return the rustic, slightly ramshackle timber-lined interior, which has been serving customers since 1872, to something like its former arrangement.
"The place is a work in progress and I was doing some refurbishing when the news lobbed about being able to have more people come in, so we'll have to rush around and reorganise everything again," Mr Connor admitted.
"We won't be allowed to stand at the bar; everyone has to sit down to have a drink and there will be signs around showing how many people are allowed in which specific areas so it will feel a bit different."
He said one of the things he has missed most since the pub doors closed to drinkers has been catching up with everyone and finding out what's happening around the district.
Gundaroo, within easy commuting distance to Canberra, is an eclectic mixture of tradespeople, graziers, public servants, academics and retirees.
"It's been really odd over these weeks and months because the pub has always been like a connection point for the community," he said.
"I've been home-schooling my two young girls so with the pub closed, like most people, I've been stuck at home, too. So it will be good to see everyone again."