Businesses across Northland are bracing themselves for what could be a sharp downturn — and nowhere more so than in the Bay of Islands where Covid-19 has turned off the local economy's lifeblood.

All cruise ship visits have been halted until June 30 and the number of visitors arriving by other means is also expected to drop as people worldwide put overseas holidays on hold.

As of 1am yesterday all arrivals in New Zealand are required to spend two weeks in isolation in a bid to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

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Rich De Rosa, owner of Paihia-based Flying Kiwi Parasail, said cruise ships were the ''icing on the cake'' for his business.

With no more ships coming in he had put one of his two boats in storage and let one skipper go.

He had also lost a big wholesale contract when Contiki, a provider of tours for under-35s, had taken its buses off the road until at least the end of April.

''So I've got to cut my crew back. I'll just strip back a bit and see what happens.''

De Rosa was, however, determined to keep operating through winter, so he could provide Paihia with a year-round activity and keep his key staff employed.

He had a core crew of three which ramped up to nine from Christmas usually until Easter.

''We're getting close to the end [of the season] anyway. If this had happened in November it would've been a world of hurt. It's definitely going to impact us, and a lot of other small businesses, but we'll get through. We've been here 22 years.''

De Rosa said the Government could help businesses like his by putting provisional tax bills on hold, especially because no one knew what the next year would bring. A tax break or wage subsidies would also be helpful.


''It's critical for me to get my core staff through the winter months. I've got one guy who's been with me for 16 years. I have to hang on to him.''