Bay of Plenty city leaders say moving to red was the right decision and now "we all have to play our part".
Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Garry Webber said he thought the red light was "inevitable".
"Now we've got to manage it as best we can - we're in the same position as the rest of the world.
"Nobody asked for it to happen, but it's here."
He said it was up to the community to "make sure they get vaccinated, and get the boosters as quickly as they can.
"That's the only way we're going to get a rough chance of getting ahead of this."
"Unfortunately, there are parts of our community that aren't [vaccinated], and we're really going to have to work on those people to get them to understand that this is the only way forward."
Whakatāne district mayor Judy Turner said the red light was critical to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed and non-Covid-19 treatments from being impacted.
She said everyone had to work together to keep Omicron at bay.
"Part of being a community is that we've all got to be there for each other. It's not just about our own outcomes, it's about the outcomes of other people.
"We all have to play our part."
She felt most concerned for hospitality businesses and those relying on large gatherings.
"They will be the ones who ultimately pay the price for helping keep the rest of us safe."
She was also concerned about how work absences could affect the economy if workers need to isolate.
Ōpōtiki district mayor Lyn Riesterer said the Government had done the right thing.
"The red light is great because it still means all of us that are fully vaccinated are able to carry on...it gives us more safety, as much as we can have.
"I know it imposes a lot on our hospitality and tourism areas, however they're still able to continue."
Rieterer said she was concerned about Opotiki's vaccination rate - which was 76.3 per cent as of January 12 - but she was encouraged by their "huge improvement through November and December."
She thought Omicron would provide an "extra jolt" for people to get vaccinated.
"It upsets me to think people are almost not community-minded to understand how much more support getting vaccinated gives everybody."
She said we need to stay positive by focusing on how much better off we are than countries who have taken different paths.
"The Government has been fully supported by very knowledgable medical people.
She said because the Government "says 'people first, the health of our nation first,' the rest will look after itself."
MP for the Bay of Plenty Todd Muller said the move to red was "the sensible thing to do."
However, he thought there was a lack of "urgency" from the Government around providing rapid antigen tests and N95 face masks.
"It seems startling to me that the Government is running around rushing trying to order these tests and masks - this stuff should have been done months ago."
He said the loss of events around the Bay was "a huge heartbreak for those that have been trying to pull them together, and really gutting for them."
He said those feeling weighed down or anxious should "get outside and walk around this beautiful community."
"I think it helps sort of recalibrate you. It certainly does for me."
Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti urged the community not to give up now.
"We have come so far...we have done so well as a country.
"Thank you for everything you've done to get us to this point - when you look at what has happened overseas and the summer that we have had here, that's thanks to the team.
"We can do this - we've done it before, and we can do it again."
She said she wasn't surprised by the move to red.
"I know we've been preparing for this moment, so I felt reassured that we had everything in place."
She said the Government had been modelling overseas cases and preparing to support our health system, as well as the booster and pediatric vaccine campaigns, to get ready for the "new foe."
"We're a highly vaccinated population, so it gives us a lot of comfort to know we're in that position."
She said expert advice had "strongly said" the red light will be enough without a lockdown.
But she also said the Government would continually assess the situation and make adjustments if needed.
"Covid has been unpredictable, we know things change along the way."
She encouraged businesses who might struggle under the red light system to visit the Unite Against Covid-19 website for advice and support.
"It is a really tough time for everyone...but be reassured that there are supports there."