The buzz in the bars is back - not quite yet in Canberra but just over the border.
But it was enough to draw Canberrans to Queanbeyan for the first day of pub opening after two long months of lockdown.
At lunchtime, the four pubs in the New South Wales town were humming with chatter. People were waiting for the doors to open at 8am at the Hotel Queanbeyan.
At Walsh's, they were there and waiting when it opened at 10am.
"Glorious. Magnificent. Brilliant," James Moffat said as he sipped his Great Northern in the front bar at Walsh's where he's been a regular for 12 years. He was in at 10am on the first unlock day.
He is a philosopher: "This is life. This is how it should be. It's community. We are social creatures. Isolation is anti-social."
He said his joy (not too strong a word) was not about the drink. It was about meeting pals. He reckoned a block of cans from a bottle shop worked out at $2 each to drink at home, a third of the price of a drink in a pub - but being in a real pub with real people was "still worth it".
Across the road at the Tourist Hotel, licensee Tony Wealands said: "It's exciting. The staff are excited. The customers are excited."
Certainly Tom Williams and Joey O'Brien were excited. They were flitting back and forth between lunch with their partners and the pokies room (where both lost $20).
"It's more the social side," Mr O'Brien said. "Have a slap and a few schooners".
"It's good to be back," Mr Williams said. "Have a chat with friends. Have a drink."
Some Canberran refugees from the stricter ACT rules found a haven in the Hotel Queanbeyan. "The ACT loses the race yet again," Andrew Caudle said.
Pre-lockdown, he and Peter Marshall and their families liked to meet at the Kingston Hotel in Manuka but chose to cross the border instead on their trip from Narrabundah and Weston Creek.
"Canberra has the restrictions so you can't get the seating," Mr Marshall said.
In the Hotel Queanbeyan, to meet the regulations,160 customers were spread between four rooms.
People can order at pub bars but they can't stay and drink there. They must return to a table.
Pubs have reorganised themselves during the great closure. At the Tourist, they've done some renovation.
At the Royal, kitchen staff have been divided into a "blue team" and a "green team" who never work together so if the virus returns and someone in one team is infected, the other team can keep working.
All the venues were buzzing, particularly because it was a public holiday in Canberra.
Upstairs at the Royal, Toni Morrison who works in Canberra used the non-work day to meet six friends in the Royal. "I'm really missing contact with people. I haven't seen these guys for three months," she said as she sipped an Australian pinot gris.
Owner Anthony McDonald said he had kept his staff employed. "JobKeeper made it a lot easier. We've managed through, knowing that we would get to this day."