Northland business and hospitality leaders fear New Year's Eve in the region - and to a larger extent summer - will be ruined with the region staying under the Government's Covid Red light system from December 30.
From 11.59pm on December 30 the whole country, except for Northland, will move into the Orange level. Northland, Auckland, parts of the Waikato and other areas further south are at the Red level now.
But on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Northland would be the only region to stay in Red, with the decision to be reviewed on January 17.
Ardern acknowledged the enormous vaccination progress made in Northland but said the Government must be cautious about the region.
Ardern said in Northland, they are 4000 shy of meeting 90 per cent first dose target. She said the difference between Northland and other regions, is a few thousand vaccinations.
The decision to keep it in Red is about being cautious. Northland has the lowest rates of fully vaccinated - 81 per cent - and those with only one jab - 87 per cent.
John Maurice, chairman of the Northland branch of the Hospitality Association, said the decision to keep the region in Red would have a big impact on businesses, particularly in the Bay of Islands.
''It doesn't really come as a surprise, given our low vaccination rates, but it's still really disappointing.
''It means that New Year in the Bay of Islands is going to be stuffed. Anybody from Auckland, or elsewhere, that was looking at coming up here for New Year's will now be thinking it;'s going to be easier, and less restrictive, to go elsewhere. It's really going to hit businesses hard up here as that's our busiest time.''
Maurice hoped the region would move to Orange on January 17, but he said if people wanted summer to be saved by moving to orange then, they need to get vaccinated.
North Chamber CEO Steve Smith said the finances of many Northland businesses were dire after months of restrictions, and staying in Red wouldn't help at all.
''Those that were thinking of coming up here for New Year's will now be giving it a second thought - why should they come to region that's still in Red and then they have to get through the Uretiti border,'' Smith said.
''We've got full confidence in our police to keep everything calm (at the border when it goes in place on Wednesday night) but it's still going to impact on the decision making of people looking at coming here.''
Smith said he fully respected the choice of people not to get vaccinated, but felt that the 4000-plus who had not got their first jab were probably never going to get one.
''More than 4000 people is a big number, but I doubt many of them would get it anyway, but it's unfortunate that the rest of Northland is paying the price,'' he said.
Lloyd Rooney of the Jetson Group that owns The Cove, Quay, Loco, No 8 in
Whangārei and The Dune in Mangawhai, said staying at Red - coupled with the Uretiti border - would be big deterrents to people heading north.
''A lot of our businesses have been doing it really tough, particularly these past five months, and we were looking forward to a really good summer. It's our busiest time and there's not a lot of reason to feel overly optimistic.
''But Northland is a great area and there will still be people coming here, regardless of the border check and the Red light, and if we got to Orange on January 17 that would really help.
''The busiest time of the year for us is that first two weeks of January, and these deterrents won't help.''
Te Pūnaha Matatini Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank was not surprised by the government's move to keep Northland in red as the region has the lowest vaccination rate.
Being a popular holiday destination, Plank said Northland was at risk of Covid-19 spreading to remote and vulnerable communities.
The decision to stay in Red has forced the organisers of Northern Bass, the region's largest New Year's event, to shift the festival dates back a month.
In a statement, the organisers said the announcement means it can't be held in Mangawhai on December 29-31. Instead, it has been postponed to January 28/29/30, 2022.
Organisers will be emailing all ticket holders with three options - holding on to tickets for January; transferring tickets to Northern Bass for 2022/23 or refunding.