Few people enjoying the sun and some cool beers at Fyshwick's Capital Brewing Company had any idea that COVID business restrictions had eased in the past 48 hours, but those running it were delighted they didn't need to have people queuing in the street.
The music was up-tempo and the small crowd as chilled as the taproom which venue manager Bobby Corbett said was "fantastic" after a lengthy period in which patron numbers were heavily restricted.
For an indoor-outdoor venue like Capital, which was licensed in non-COVID times to accept 998 patrons, the recent easing of restrictions to allow around 25 per cent of that number to now sit down and enjoy a refreshing ale or two had started to bring the business "back to life".
"The extra 100 or so people we can now admit to the premises has been a game-changer for us," Mr Corbett said.
"Places such as ours need ambience, they need atmosphere, they need a bit of crowd to give it a bit of bustle and vibe."
He said that earlier in the year back when the brewery was just re-opening after the initial, tough COVID restrictions forced a complete public shut-out, just 10 people were allowed in and long queues of eager patrons formed down the street.
"Having such few people in a big place like this felt very odd," he said.
"But as the health updates came through, we were gradually able to allow 20, then 50 people in. Now this weekend it feels, well, almost normal but not quite."
The very popular brewery tours were out of the question for the foreseeable future because admitting tour parties in meant fewer patrons overall were allowed inside.
As someone who worked in the hospitality industry in Victoria for six years before coming to Canberra, he said he felt "heartbroken" for what people in businesses like Capital's were going through at the moment in that state, where heavy restrictions were still imposed.
"I speak to some of my former colleagues down there from time to time and gee, they are really doing it tough," he said.
He said that Capital's employees were now off the JobKeeper wage subsidy program and the company's beer sales were going "really, really well" as more mainstream outlets across the ACT and NSW took up more of packaged volume.
"We've just got to hope that we're all careful and keep sticking to the rules and we don't get any COVID setbacks," he said.
"Summer is our busy season; we've got dozens of Christmas party bookings coming in and it would be great to get back to the new normal, whatever that looks like."
On Friday morning, gathering restrictions in the ACT eased as the city continued its months-long run without recording a new case of COVID-19.
Outdoor venues may now permit one person per two square metres - an increase from one person per four square metres - in a move which has been widely welcomed by venue operators.