"Here we go again".
It was deja vu for Tauranga business owners who spent yesterday spacing out tables, filling up hand sanitiser bottles, and refreshing staff of the rules of alert level 2.
Business leaders said a return to level 2 came as a surprise and the risk of extending to a level 3 lockdown, which owners said would be "devastating" and a "real kick in the guts".
Meanwhile the head of the Rotorua branch of Hospitality New Zealand has hit out at the Government for not naming the eateries two new Covid-19 cases visited while showing symptoms.
Reg Hennessy, Hospitality New Zealand Rotorua branch president and owner of Hennessy's Irish Bar, said it was "irresponsible" to raise the alarm but not give the details.
"It is not just going to hurt the hospitality businesses who were unlucky to have their visit but it has put suspicion on everyone."
His comments came after Auckland was placed into alert level 3 and the rest of the country into alert level 2 when four Covid-19 cases with no known source were confirmed.
Two of the new cases travelled to Rotorua with family while showing virus symptoms and visited tourism spots.
The family visited a number of locations, including eateries on their trip. They stayed at the WaiOra Lakeside Spa Resort from August 8 to 11 and visited the Skyline Gondola Lodge on August 9, 4pm to 6pm and Heritage Farms Art Gallery August 10, 3pm to 4pm.
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the infected family's visit to Rotorua — the four confirmed community based cases as revealed last night — had not resulted in anyone being classified as a close contact and there were no other locations that presented risks besides Rotorua.
The Med Cafe owner Jo Brown said she had two people in her cafe at about 10.30am yesterday which was "never heard of".
"Normally I would have a full cafe. People are obviously worried now we are back in level 2. Here we go again."
Brown worried what support would be available if the alert level moved.
"I can't survive with just two customers in my cafe. It is a bit worrying. But in saying that I was only 9 per cent down last month from the year before and I'm taking that as a win."
Brown said she had Covid scanning cards at the ready plus more sanitiser and masks available.
"I don't want to panic. We are just trying to keep level-headed and taking things by the hour. We just have to do our best to survive."
Jessica Rafferty, owner of Crown & Badger, said the return to level 2 was "devastating".
"It is an absolute shock."
Rafferty said business had been "busier than last year".
"It sucks, it really sucks. But hopefully, we don't have to go back to level 3."
Despite the shock, Rafferty said she and her staff would try to keep as much normality as possible. "Mentally it is a bit different this time around...
"Already I've noticed the streets are emptier, there are not as many people driving around."
Moving to level 3 would be a "huge impact" on all businesses especially if the wage subsidy was no longer available, she said.
"It's quite scary. Level 3 also looks different for hospitality without takeaways. It's a big game-changer."
Oscar & Otto restaurant and cafe owner Hamish Carter said returning to level 2 was "gut-wrenching".
"Everything had been going well for us and of course we are hoping we will get through this."
Carter said level 2 meant tables would need to be spaced out and be back to having single-servers.
He said moving further down the alert levels will be a "kick in the guts" but "we are going to have to trust that we can avoid that at all costs".
"It [lockdown] was really tough. Nobody wants that."
Emma Fraser, from Allure Nail Studio and the NZ Beauty Association, said as a small business owner she was concerned.
"However, as long as we practice good hygiene practices and physical distancing where possible we should make it through."
Perspex screens remained in place at the Tauranga salon and staff have re-instated the use of face shields.
"We also have strong contact tracing through the use of our appointment booking system."
Fraser said moving further down the alert levels would be "devastating".
"The survival of our business, as it is, will be dependant on the assistance that the Government is able to offer small businesses.
"A further lockdown will have a dramatic impact, however, we are fighters and have survived this pandemic once, we will survive again."
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Auckland in lockdown, rest of country in level 2 - Four cases of community transmission
• Covid 19 coronavirus fresh outbreak: What can I do at levels 2 and 3? What it means for you
• Covid 19 coronavirus lockdown: Jacinda Ardern says Auckland in level 3 at midday; NZ in level 2
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Bay of Plenty moves back to level 2
Waimarino Adventure Park owner Blair Anderson said it was a matter of time before the country would be in level 3.
"It would be severely hindering to health, business, societal wellbeing... people are going to be nervous."
While the adventure park was not operating in winter, the glow worm tours had been hit hard.
"We're already doing postponements."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said instances like this should not be unexpected over the next year or two especially for hospitality and retail businesses.
"How we react is important, let's support our local businesses in this tough time."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the sudden announcements came as a surprise.
"There will be a sense of frustration particularly among business owners who were hardest hit from the initial lockdown.
"[They] are already low on reserves and cash flow margins. This makes them more vulnerable to future lockdowns."
Cowley said moving into level 2 reinforced every business needed to be adaptable.
"It is a reminder that the world is in the middle of a global pandemic. We all need to follow the rules so we can get back to level 1 as soon as possible."
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said bars and restaurants would have to ensure the three Ss meaning customers must be seated, separated and served by a single server.
"It's all very much a moving feast and we do expect government guidelines to change, just as they did through the previous alert levels."
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said level 2 created uncertainty for all industries.
"The inability for Aucklanders to travel to the Bay is significant for the tourism industry.
"Aucklanders visiting Tauranga contributed $160 million to the local economy in the year ending June 2020 ... [That's] roughly 20 per cent of Tauranga's total visitor economy. Auckland visitors are Tauranga's second-largest visitor behind Waikato."
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford hoped the situation can be brought under control quickly.
Harford said the move to level 2 in the Bay will dent consumer confidence and some retailers will need extra Government support in order to survive.
Blues Brothers cancelled
The cast and crew of Tauranga's premiere of The Blues Brothers musical have been left heartbroken after not being able to hold their sold-out opening night - again.
The original season of Tauranga Musical Theatre's production of The Blues Brothers: First Contact was set to be staged from April 17 to May 2 this year.
Covid-19 lockdown forced the cast and crew to postpone the show just three weeks before opening night.
The sold-out show was meant to open again this Friday but they can no longer hold the opening night following the return to level 2.
Tauranga Musical Theatre president Jeremy Sparrow said they could no longer hold the opening night due to the current restrictions of a 100-person limit on gatherings.
"A sold-out show has a capacity of 112, excluding the 50 or so volunteers on stage and behind the scenes."
The situation was "in one word, gutting".
"Since coming back into rehearsals after lockdown, the cast and crew have thrown themselves 100 per cent behind this show to get it ready again in just seven weeks, so to come this close and have the rug pulled out from under us again is just heartbreaking."
He said having to cancel opening night was a "huge blow".
"There are 50-something volunteers involved in the staging of this production and each one of them adapted to the changes that the April lockdown threw at us.
"Every step of the way they have been hard-working, upbeat and our biggest champions for getting this ready to relaunch.
"I hope for their sake we get to bring this world premiere to the stage soon to recognise and celebrate their work."
Sparrow said with the season set to run for two weeks, and many shows sold out, they needed to prepare for what might happen after Friday.
Anyone who has purchased tickets for the opening night will be contacted by Tauranga Musical Theatre directly to discuss next steps.