There are concerns customers frustrated or angry by new, stricter mask rules for hospitality venues will take it out on staff.
Tauranga bar, cafe and restaurant businesses say customers have mostly been happy to oblige and wear masks when needed but some workers were worried about reaction to the latest rule changes.
Rules around masks were updated after the country moved to the red traffic light setting following a spike in cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The variant has already made its way into the region, with two people testing positive in Tauranga on Tuesday.
The mask changes would come into force at midnight on February 3.
Workers who are mandated to be vaccinated will need to wear a medical grade mask in public-facing roles and masks must be worn at businesses that serve food and beverages except when eating or drinking.
A face covering will need to be an actual mask and attached to the head by loops around the ears or head - no scarves, bandannas, or t-shirts.
Cafe on The Strand manager Sharon Dougherty did not feel the changes would make too much of a difference.
However, she had heard some concern around the surgical mask requirements.
"A lot of people aren't happy about, a lot of people have gone to trouble of making their own.
"Most people are obliging. It's not our choice but it's what we have to do."
Moaners would be moaners, she said, and a "handful" of people took their frustrations out on staff.
"You're always going to get aggro people."
She said a man came in who refused to show his vaccine passport when asked.
"He said a few quaint words and walked out. We're kind of light-hearted here, we don't take it personally. We don't miss customers like that, it's not worth the hassle."
There had been "a few choice words", but other customers laughed.
"They're actually making a fool of themselves. . . we might look meek and mild but we're pretty tough."
Dougherty said there had been a "bit of a decline" in customer numbers as people began to work from home in the red setting.
"It comes in swings and roundabouts really."
La Mexica Cantina and Restaurant manager Raj Kakay said several times a day people would come in refusing to wear a mask.
"They don't really listen, they are completely over it. They don't want to wear it."
Those customers had to be asked to leave, he said.
"They don't follow the rules."
"At times, it does get very difficult for us, but having said that, what can we do? We're trying our best and that's all we can do."
He said La Mexica depended on weekend traffic and he feared under the red traffic light setting the business would suffer "big time".
Kakay asked the public to follow the rules.
Crown & Badger duty manager Keelan Bradley said his experience with non-compliant mask wearers was almost non-existent.
"Everyone who has come in has been compliant. You get the odd person on a Friday or Saturday night but we have security on the gates so they don't get in the door. 99.9 per cent of people have been great."
Operating under the red setting had not proven too challenging for Bradley this week, but he said the real test would be at the weekend.
"It's almost the same as it was under level 2. . . We haven't really been affected by the limited numbers during the week."
He said cancelled events will end up having an impact on the business but said, so far, had been business as normal "but with table service".
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said while hospitality was "at the coal face" ensuring rule compliance, she hoped there would be shared responsibility between customers and businesses to lighten the impact on workers.
"The majority comply with the rules but there have been a few cases where our front line teams have had to deal with unreasonable and aggressive customers we hope we wont see happening."
Bidois said many hospitality businesses have already been asking customers to wear masks and she encouraged diners to support the industry by complying with the newly-mandated rules.
She encouraged people to keep dining out and supporting local.
"We ask customers to come prepared and educate yourself on the rules.
"Staff often feel uncomfortable asking customers to comply with the rules so the more that this can be a shared responsibility the better."
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty branch president Reg Hennessy said he had spent almost two years training staff and customers to wear an approved face covering properly.
"Now in an instant, we have to start again.
"Sadly, we will be the front line again copping their frustration. It will fall to us to try and explain to people why what was acceptable yesterday is not acceptable today.
"With the time it took to explain to people and the resistance - and in some cases anger - of people at being told what is best for them all fall on to my staff and are more costs and issues to work through for us."
He said he felt sorry for producers of masks that were no longer acceptable.
"My advice to hospitality in the Bay of Plenty is to comply to improve the safety of your staff and to avoid any punishments metered out for failing to do so.
"Try and simply explain to customers that these are not our rules but the rules we have all been told to live with."