New Zealand hospitality owners say the Government was being "cruel" by holding their doors shut until next Thursday despite Auckland reaching 90 per cent vaccination rate.
As Sunny Kaushal, owner of the country's oldest microbrewery pub and restaurant in Auckland, said: "It is cruel to kick us down the road to December 3."
"We were hoping against hope that we'd go to step 3 this week as a soft launch for the new framework. That's now been dashed and it sucks," said Kaushal, who owns the Shakespeare Tavern.
"It's like the Prime Minister does not understand that we operate under food control plans. Our people are vaccinated but we're being punished.
"We need to open," Kaushal said.
"It's nice to be praised for our sacrifice but it feels as like the tourism and hospitality businesses are being sacrificed.
With Covid 19 vaccination certificates already available, the Government needs to allow businesses to reopen now, he said.
Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the whole of NZ will move into the traffic light framework at 11.59 pm on Thursday, December 2.
Ardern said she will set out key information and details on the traffic light system later this week. More details and a law change will be released this week as well as an app to allow businesses to operate under the vaccination certificate framework.
Cabinet has also decided to undertake a trial by allowing hairdressers and barbers in Auckland to open from Thursday to vaccinated people, Ardern said at today's post-Cabinet press briefing.
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said although hairdressers and barbers will be out of lockdown this Thursday thousands of restaurants, cafes and caterers and other personal service businesses must suffer lockdown until Friday, December 3 despite over 90 per cent of Aucklanders being vaccinated.
"A week is a long time in politics, and even longer for small and medium businesses in sectors which will be kept out in the cold until Auckland and the rest of the country moves into the new traffic light system on Friday week," he said.
"The damage from 100 days of lockdown is done. Now it is time for recovery and repairing faith between Government and the people.
"December 3 as all systems go date for the red light framework gives certainty, but for businesses starved of revenue for so long, every day counts. What is going to change so dramatically between now and then that keeps Auckland in this holding room?" Barnett said.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said after months of closure, a set date for the reopening of hospitality in Auckland is welcome and long overdue.
This will allow businesses to start their planning for the short period of time they will be able to open before Aucklanders leave the city over the Christmas break, she said.
"However, it is difficult to fathom that this is still eleven days away.
"There is a lot to do including implementing the process for managing vaccination passports for our industry. The entire industry, but particularly Auckland is going to need support to manage the transition and we look forward to hearing more from the Government on how it plans to do this," Bidois said.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said it was good news to finally have some certainty on the actual reopening date but it wasn't clear why the businesses couldn't reopen from December 1 and it was very disappointing.
"It is good to finally have some certainty and actual date for reopening and great news for hairdressers and barbers, that will be a relief for many.
"It's unclear why it's not the December 1 as this is the date many have been asking and planning for and every date counts for impacted businesses – all up, it's still very disappointing for hospitality, which is desperate to open.
"We are looking ahead towards December 3 and will make the most of the trading opportunities in the lead up to Christmas.
"We are still seeking financial support from the Government for impacted sectors until we get to the green, as well as activation funding to encourage people to get out and spend.
"It's not just as simple as assuming that as soon as businesses can open all will be back to normal… many businesses have been devastated by this extended lockdown and we need to help them to recover as quickly as possible," Beck said.