Northland's economy will be hit hard by the second Auckland Covid-19 lockdown in two weeks, say Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen and Northland chamber head Steve Smith.
The latest lockdown was put in place because a household contact of a student from Papatoetoe High School went to the gym when he should have been self-isolating after having a Covid test.
Olsen said the move up alert levels was "unsettling" for the whole country.
There were several immediate effects on businesses, he said, which included fewer Aucklanders coming to the north to spend, and alert levels "slowing down the pace of business".
Hospitality and recreation are likely to be hit harder as they would have to spend more time making their way through restrictions, Olsen said.
"Even at level 2 there are extra restrictions, particularly for hospitality and recreation businesses and events.
"And to have two level 3 bursts is quite unsettling.
"It's undeniable that some businesses will feel compromised at the moment."
Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Steve Smith said continued pressure and disruption to supply lines was having an impact.
Cancelled events such as Northland Field Days were also a blow as they "create a bit of fat to take them through the leaner years," said Smith.
"You take out something as central to New Zealand business as the Auckland region and the effects are profound to all regions.
"Particularly for Northland, because we're cut off from the rest of the country.
"The uncertainty creates this continual degradation of business confidence.
"When you can't look forward and forecast what your business will be doing it's really difficult to continue with investment or anything else."
Under level two, all businesses can operate if they can do so safely, but workers must be one metre apart from each other and customers in retail two metres apart.
Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person with a maximum of 100 people at a time.
Co-owner of Whangārei's Split Bar and Restaurant Karl Marsland said the changes were "unsettling".
During Auckland's three-day lockdown his business experienced "a bit of a drop", though it was generally well supported by the community, he said.
"There are extra rules to abide by, so we have to take away a couple of tables. We have less people we can serve at the same time," Marsland said.
"It's more labour intensive, as we need more staff to meet the single-server requirement.
"Sometimes it can take longer for customers to be seen or for them to get their food."
Marsland said the cancellation of Northland Field Days - the largest agri-event in the region - would be felt "big time".
However, he sympathised with Aucklanders who have it much worse.
"We have the systems in place and it's not that difficult to switch between the two [alert levels]," he said.
"It could be way worse; I feel sorry for the businesses in Auckland."
Restaurateur Lloyd Rooney said the lockdowns had a "massive effect" on business.
He's had 10 bookings of 20-plus people cancel at three of his restaurants; The Quay, Number 8 and his new Whangārei bar Loco, which opened in December.
"When the lockdown happens a big part of your market is cut off from coming to see you.
"It's a big shame for Northland but it is what it is".
Restaurant Association of New Zealand chief executive Marisa Bidois said the fluctuating alert levels impacted on customer confidence.
"In the past when our industry heads into level 2, there's anywhere between a 10 to 30 per cent drop in revenue.
"Depending on how your business is set up, they have fewer people, and there's public apprehension whenever there's an announcement.
"People will not go out as much as they usually would. It does change things."
The hospitality sector is expected to be permanently changed in the years ahead, with businesses focusing on online shopping, hygiene and maintaining greater cash buffers, according to industry and market research company IBISWorld.
However, it's not all bad news.
Senior industry analyst Matthew Barry said business confidence and consumer sentiment are expected to become positive in 2021-22.
Further snap-lockdowns are expected to become less likely as vaccines are distributed across the country, he said.
This would see the sector recover, with cafes and restaurants expected to rebound by 8.4 per cent, and fast food and takeaway food services by 7.5 per cent.
Jo Spring, owner of Goody Goody deli and eatery in Waipū, said the current lockdown "wasn't too bad" for her at the moment.
With many Aucklanders fleeing the city, the café was slightly busier than normal, she said.
"Today we're quite steady, but it's day by day.
"We pull out a few tables and carry on.
"With hospitality in general you don't know who's going to walk in the door, so you have to be quite flexible anyway."