Unlike other parts of the world, New Zealand hasn't ordered citizens to wear face masks since the pandemic began.
That changed Monday (August 31) when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern required people across the country to wear masks on public transport.
The country's biggest city Auckland is grappling with a fresh outbreak, though Ardern also lifted a lockdown there the day before.
The prime minister says she's confident New Zealanders would embrace the new measures adding that goodwill would help people get through tough times.
"We are still a team here and I think that everyone recognises that Auckland has been going through a particularly tough period. What I'd like to ask again is what we've asked all the way through - a bit of kindness. You know a bit of smiling with the eyes behind the mask."
At train platforms, some commuters wore surgical masks while others sported more colourful designs.
Schools and businesses also reopened in Auckland on Monday, and parents were relieved to have kids returning to classes.
"To me it's so good for them to go back to school. So they've been sitting at home doing nothing. Online work, online school is alright but it's still not good enough for them. So it's good to get out of the house."
The Pacific nation of 5 million people had seemed to stop community transmission of COVID-19 due to tough lockdown measures, until the Auckland outbreak ended a near-100 day streak without new cases, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown earlier in August.