At least half of central New Zealand businesses say they need more financial help over the next three to six months to survive.
The rest are either unsure of what support they need, or want more advice and clarity from Government.
The high degree of uncertainty businesses are experiencing due to Covid-19 has been captured in a new survey by Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Business Central conducted between April 20 and 24.
Suggestions for support ranged from wage subsidy extensions, to rent relief, and forms of tax payment deferrals and rebates.
An art and recreation business in Wellington responded to the survey saying Covid-19 has caused "a total loss of income" and was currently generating ongoing debt.
"The only response within our control is to not pay out any expenses including wages."
There were 477 responses to the survey from a broad range of businesses stretching from Gisborne, to New Plymouth, and down to Nelson.
As many as 76 per cent of those businesses have used the Government's wage subsidy to help get them through the past five weeks in lockdown.
A Wellington recruitment agency with more than 50 employees responded to the survey saying the subsidy has been crucial for allowing the business to pay temps who have no client assignments.
"We are looking at how we can survive until permanent hiring starts again in our clients. We have kept nearly all our staff, apart from termination of several fixed-term contracts which will now end when our subsidy period finishes."
But a Nelson manufacturer is among those businesses which have not qualified for assistance.
"[We] have implemented a restructure to reduce salary and wages by $1 million annually, due to inability to recapitalise business and we do not meet the criteria for wage support", the manufacturer responded in the survey.
Wellington Chamber and Business Central Chief Executive John Milford also warned the wage subsidy was about to run out in a couple of pay-cycles for some businesses which did qualify for it.
Although only 7 per cent of businesses now remain closed, down from 22 per cent at alert level 4, Milford said the majority of those which had reopened were not operating anywhere near full capacity.
"Consequentially, there remains a high degree of uncertainty. Businesses can see a storm is brewing in the post-Covid environment, and businesses were unable to ready themselves for it due to the previous lockdown conditions. Many businesses believe things will get much worse before they get better."
A small retail business in Wairarapa told the survey it would be a struggle to catch up on bills and taxes over the coming months.
"Catch up will depend on how stymied we are by level 3 and level 2 and also by how much money our customers have to spend, there also may be stock supply issues - who'd know?"
A retailer in Whanganui told the survey it would be 8-10 weeks after opening before they saw any cash flow.
"Our big concern is to keep all the staff on the books. So we may reduce hours to say four-day weeks to enable us to do that. Perhaps another two to three weeks of wage subsidy could be a good thing. We just don't know what volume of sales we will get."
Almost 65 per cent of respondents believed their earnings would be worse over the next three to six months than their current level.
"A lack of confidence in their own business earnings means business won't be investing or trying to grow, they're going to hunker down and try to survive through the coming months."