Tauranga cafe co-owner Connie Richards worked six days straight this week to cover staff sickness.
However, despite the impact of seasonal flu on her business, she is firmly against a high-profile health expert's suggestion that mandated isolation periods should be introduced for the flu.
Richards, who co-owns Elizabeth Cafe and Larder, said for the hospitality sector such a mandate would be like "smacking us in the face once again".
Her comments come after Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker called for mandatory isolation for those who contracted the flu, treating the illness the same way as Covid.
Baker wanted the government to look at legislating stay-at-home orders for the flu and reintroduce compulsory masks in schools to short-circuit flu strains sweeping across New Zealand.
He said the lessons of the pandemic should be applied during winter as the country's health system groans under Covid and influenza.
On Thursday, the Bay of Plenty Times reported Bay of Plenty GP clinics were grappling with "increased levels of demand" as influenza and Covid-19 plagued local health services.
Patients were waiting for up to seven days for non-urgent doctor appointments while some GP practices had closed their books for new enrolments altogether.
Tauranga and Whakatāne Hospitals were also seeing higher numbers of patients at their emergency departments and had been impacted by the flu and other winter viruses.
Elizabeth Cafe and Larder co-owner Richards said she had just worked six days straight due to staff getting the flu.
Despite this, Richards did not agree with introducing a mandatory isolation period for those who got the flu.
A mandate would be "smacking us in the face once again in hospitality" and cause "more turmoil," she said.
"By shutting everything down like this is just horrific as a business owner."
Richards acknowledged the pressure hospitals were under and said it was a "Catch-22".
"I think what they should be working on is educating people to look after their health with different things that you can do to actually build your immunity."
University of Waikato professor of public health Ross Lawrenson said it would be "pretty impractical" to mandate isolation for the flu.
"The problem is we don't have a simple test for influenza.
"We already have people with Covid who are not testing to avoid mandatory isolation."
He also said it would be "really hard" to mandate masks in schools, particularly for young children.
Lawrenson said Covid cases had increased recently, particularly among the elderly.
He encouraged anyone eligible for their second booster to get it, which was now available for everyone aged 50 and over, as well as health, aged care and disability workers aged 30 years and over.
Western Bay of Plenty Principals' Association president Suzanne Billington said schools could reintroduce masks as a health and safety measure if they were being "hit really hard" by the flu.
"That's already a management technique that schools can use if they wish to."
Billington said there were "large numbers" of students off sick with the flu, Covid and a stomach bug.
"All students who have flu-like symptoms and are unwell are asked to be home from school and test.
"If they come to school ... they get sent home and we give them RATs to take home with them.
"And they do stay home while they're unwell. And usually, this flu at the moment is meaning that students are out of school for up to a week because it's a pretty awful flu."
Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation network services general manager Phil Back said everyone working in health was encouraging people to do their bit to stay well and reduce pressure on the local primary care system "feeling the strain of winter illnesses".
"This means staying home if you are unwell, test for Covid-19 if you have symptoms, wear a face mask on public and transport and indoor settings such as retail stores and supermarkets, wash and dry your hands regularly and importantly, get immunised for influenza.
"If you have tamariki, we also urge you to check they are up to date with their MMR vaccinations to protect them from measles, mumps and rubella."