A move to red if Omicron breaks out in New Zealand would "grind businesses to a halt", Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley says.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would move to the strictest traffic light setting of the Covid-19 protection framework within 24-48 hours of the Omicron variant entering the community.
Ardern said the government knew, from other countries, it could take as little as 14 days for cases to grow from hundreds to thousands.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that there was a possible case of Omicron in Palmerston North, believed to have been infectious from January 17.
There were no new Covid cases in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board yesterday.
Cowley's biggest concern was with what would happen if large parts of the workforce got Omicron and needed to isolate.
It would have a "snowball effect" and "grind businesses to a halt" as operating with broken supply chains and no staff will become impossible for some, he said.
He said businesses hoped border restrictions would be eased to allow critical personnel through if Omicron was in the community.
He said it made sense to allow more critical workers through the border to help look after the vulnerable and keep life-sustaining supplies moving.
Cowley said red restrictions were "disastrous" for the vulnerable events and tourism sectors.
He was, however, pleased lockdowns weren't being considered at this stage.
In red, businesses can remain open and domestic travel can continue. Mask-wearing and gathering restrictions will be in place.
Tauranga is set to host major events over the next two weekends, including the Black Clash and Mount Festival of Sport this weekend and One Love festival next.