Confusing, unfair, and "a bit s***" is how a hospitality venue owner has described the new traffic light system.
Others were more upbeat and believed businesses could return to pre-Covid levels, however an air of confusion about the process remained.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) had also put forward recommendations about dealing with disgruntled customers. It advised employers to give staff ''wording'' to de-escalate situations or call police if the situation warranted it.
Taupō, Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki will move to red on Friday, along with Northland, Auckland, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu districts.
The rest of the North Island and the entire South Island will be at orange, which means there will be no gathering limits for gyms, hospitality, events and close-contact businesses if vaccine passes are used.
Settings will be reviewed every two weeks.
Josh Fitzgerald, owner of Barrior Brothers in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga and Sugo, said everything had been "really confusing" and hospitality had unfair deadlines to meet.
The country was told about the move to the traffic light system one month ago.
"Other industries got months [to prepare] ... It's a bit s***."
He said it's been difficult to get definitive information around what needed to happen and whether passes had to be scanned or just viewed.
Fitzgerald hoped the public would be understanding with business owners.
Snap Fitness Pāpāmoa has put vaccine passes on client files, allowing them to enter the gym without showing their passport every time.
Manager Georgia McCulloch said it was a "harsh system" but the new framework came with relief as restrictions would ease back to normal, pre-Covid.
She said a small percentage of clients had taken their anger and frustration out on the staff which has "been hard".
In the new year, the gym will launch outdoor boot camps as well as online classes for the unvaccinated.
Hospitality NZ accommodation sector Bay of Plenty chairman and Tauranga's 850 Cameron Motel owner Tony Bullot said he was unsure how seriously the traffic light system would be taken and there were "grey areas".
Owners could voluntarily implement the vaccine pass scheme but could be liable for a $15,000 fine if unvaccinated staff or guests were on site, he said.
They were also not allowed to legally ask staff for their vaccination status which put owners into a difficult position, he said, managing staff who were vaccine-hesitant and immune-compromised.
Music Works Tauranga manager Vaz Mantis said they were fortunate retail would be operating the same with the new framework.
With or without vaccine passes, general retail stores, banks, markets, greengrocers, butcheries, bakeries, and fishmongers can stay open with capacity limits based on one-metre distancing and mandatory masks unless exempt.
Tauranga's Cafe Demitasse owner Rebecca Angell said she was "very frustrated" that the virus forced the sudden closure of her cafe sparked by a case at a local school on Monday.
She hoped the "precautionary" closure was short as she couldn't afford to be closed much longer after a "very tough 18 months".
"No matter how many protests people are engaged in, the virus isn't listening. I just feel we need to direct all our anger against Covid."
Angell said Covid was to blame for the situation she and other business owners were in.
"If there was a country in the world responding to the virus in a perfect way then we would all be living there."
Angell said she was in the process of fine tuning the ways it operated so it could safely cater to everybody.
Retail NZ was asking people to be calm and understanding as businesses gear up for Friday.
Chief executive Greg Harford said 2021 was a tumultuous year for retailers and it hoped there would be some light at the end of the Covid tunnel.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the company was asking customers aged 12 or over to either show proof they are fully vaccinated, or a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure.
From December 8, people could download the Air NZ app to verify their vaccination status.
A spokesman from MBIE said all staff in businesses covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate needed to be vaccinated. This applied at all levels to hospitality, events, close proximity businesses, and gyms.
This mandate applies regardless of whether or not the business chooses to ask customers to show passes.
Those that chose not to ask for passes will have to work with strict limits on capacity and space requirements.
The businesses need to see or verify each customer's pass, which can be done with the Ministry of Health's newly developed app, he said.
Businesses not covered by a mandate can require vaccination based on a Health and Safety risk assessment or using the Vaccination Assessment Tool, he said.
He said the ministry recommended employers give staff wording they can use if things escalate so they can de-escalate a situation.
"We recommend you are clear when workers should walk away or decide not to continue to engage with the person.
"You should also consider what kind of behaviour might mean you call the police and indicate that abuse of your staff will not be tolerated."