News Tauranga and the Western Bay will start the new traffic light Covid-19 system on Friday in orange has come as a "relief" to businesses.
They are uncertain, however, about how some aspects of the system will work and nervous about turning unvaccinated people away.
Taupō, Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki will move into 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 move in 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.
Crown & Badger bar owner Jessica Rafferty said she was hoping for a lot more information about the system.
"It's nice to know that the Government will review the system every two weeks, which offers us some certainty, but I was looking for a lot more from this announcement, such as 'do I need to employ another staff member to check that people are physical scanning vaccination certificates,' and so on."
She hoped customers appreciated that if staff had to turn someone away, they were just doing what the Government expected them to do.
"I don't want people to be mean to us."
TGA BOX Health & Fitness gym owner Chris Walker said moving to orange was "a relief".
"For gyms and hospitality businesses it means we can continue to operate."
Walker said the traffic light system was challenging in terms of how to deal with clients not vaccinated for health reasons. He was exploring the feasibility of offering some clients outdoor classes.
Aaron Fenwick, owner of Blow Hair Co in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, said it was awesome that the city was going into orange.
He said his business had gone through "a lot of pain" financially in the past 18-24 months.
"We appreciate the reason the traffic light system is now in place and we want to follow the rules to keep ourselves and our customers safe. But the mechanics of how we do that is still a little unclear and we need more information from the Government."
Fenwick said he was not sure whether he was expected to employ a security guard to police people's vaccination status. He said he certainly could not afford to do that after a "pretty terrible" past two years.
Chief executive of economic development agency Priority One, Nigel Tutt, said it was a big call for the Government to split the Bay of Plenty into red and orange halves.
But, he said, it was understandable given the lower vaccination rates in Rotorua Lakes and the Eastern Bay.
"I think it's good that Tauranga and Western Bay are in orange.
"The new traffic light system gives businesses and the community greater clarity of what is expected to keep operating."
Tutt said he believed most businesses would quickly get their heads around the new system.
It would be a "no-brainer" for owners to use one system for all customers rather than operate a two-tiered system for vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, he said.
Tutt hoped business owners checking people's vaccination status did not receive too much grief if they had to turn anyone away.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said it was a blessing to go into orange but the districts were surrounded by other areas in the red.
"The safeguard messages are still the same. You need to get out there and get vaccinated, continue to wear your mask and use the contact tracing systems, and social distance."
Webber said Tauranga and Western Bay were "teetering" in orange at moment and no one wanted the district to go into the red if people did not continue to do the right things.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said orange was the best way to ease into the new system.
But he was concerned it would come at the busiest time of year for many businesses rushing to complete jobs before the festive break.
"It's particularly busy for hospitality and retail, where they have additional costs of having to police the vaccine passes on entry."
He hoped the district could move into green early in the New Year.
Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Oscar Nathan said businesses would need to "get their head around" the impacts of the new system and work out how to manage "what might hopefully be growing demand".
Nathan said he was "genuinely hoping" announcements made last week around the borders re-opening would still be a reality, despite the emerging Omicron variant.
Pat Cook, chief executive of community health organisation Te Manu Toroa, said the traffic light system would not change how its service was delivered and it would operate at all colours for both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients and whānau.
"Moving through the colour system impacts the non-vaccinated more than fully vaccinated.
"The biggest impact on the community will be the potential division that the system may create, particularly when some businesses choose to apply vaccination certificates as a condition of entry, and other businesses do not.
"It could be a frustrating time for the non-vaccinated."
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said up to now there had been a lot of confusion about what the traffic light system meant for the community, and it did seem quite complex.
"I think for most people who have got double-vaccinated, life continues as normal."
Muller said the crux of the system was for people to be able to prove they were vaccinated. Most business owners were likely to decide to operate one checking system, rather than a two-tiered system.
"I think more and more business owners will make that choice. They are already under enough stress just trying to make a living, particularly retail and hospitality businesses...
"It will become too hard for them to try and separate out vaccinated customers from the unvaccinated...In the end, it will always come down to stark choices and most people will decide to get vaccinated," he said.
Tauranga Labour list MP Jan Tinetti said New Zealand was well prepared for the next stage of the response to Covid.
"Moving to a traffic light system is designed to minimise the impact and protect people, she said.
"Tauranga being in orange makes logical sense. I strongly encourage people to get fully vaccinated and support friends and whanau to do so as soon as possible."
Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell said starting in red would be "quite inconvenient" for his district and hoped people would now realise the importance of vaccinations.
"I sincerely hope they're going to be sensible enough to get it done … otherwise we'll all suffer for it."
Denis Beaver from Coro-Events was "stoked" Waikato would go into orange and said it meant "full steam ahead" for three events he had planned for the Joe's Farm venue Whangamatā in January.
No new cases of Covid-19 were announced today in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region, which also includes the Eastern Bay. It had 48 active community cases.
As of Sunday, the DHB area was just 793 doses away from reaching the 90 per cent target for first doses.
Ministry of Health data showed it was at 89.6 per cent. In order to reach the 90 per cent fully vaccinated rate, 20,797 doses needed to be administered.