After 77 days of hard lockdown, Melburnians emerged on Friday with cautious optimism and wandered bleary eyed into a brave new post-lockdown, Covid-normal-ish city.

A balmy spring afternoon saw long lines at barbers; nail technicians taking their trade to the footpaths to contend with crowds, and tables decorated with glistening pots of golden ale.

The State Library lawn was a sea of friends lunching in the sun, including Fringe Festival employees Michelle and Elish, who were considering what they’ll be glad to put behind them now lockdown is over.

For Elish, that’s an end to hair dyeing once and for all – her new salt-and-pepper-coloured locks will remain, while Michelle says “eight hours straight of Netflix” is the lockdown habit she hopes will seriously end.

For 22-year-old Audrey, who sat giggling in the sunshine with her friend Seba, there was just one song to play when she woke up on Friday. “Koffee’s Lockdown, of course – it’s the perfect song for today.” Though, she said Tiktok dances have got to go. “No more,” she insisted, hoping to hit a real dancefloor as soon as possible.

On Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street, iconic venues like The Evelyn remained closed to lunch trade, while others bustled with staff preparing for a big night. Cremorne Mexican restaurant South of the Wall ordered 240 litres of lime juice. That’s a lot of Margaritas.

Little Hop local Mikey was glad to see the end of takeaway pub crawls, declaring the short-lived lockdown loophole – that had punters “walk, chat, sip” their way through inner-city streets in early August – to be “fucking horrible”. For Mikey though, people adopting pets they “weren’t ready for” was lockdown’s worst trend.

Not far from the suddenly lower-key picnic vibes of Edinburgh Gardens, I crossed paths with David. Teenage boys on oversized BMXs were a common sight during lockdown, and the 15-year-old – out and about after school with a mate – said SE biking was a hobby he’d be sticking at post lockdown. “I love it!”

As the weather turned and a drizzle set in late afternoon, a rabble of blokes still in their workwear cascaded out of the North Fitzroy Arms and onto the footpath. Cradling a fresh pot of Carlton in his mighty paw, local builder Murph put it simply when I asked what he’d missed the most. “My friends.”