The Rangitīkei and Ruapehu districts will join Whanganui in the red light setting when the Government's Covid-19 traffic light system takes effect late on Thursday night.
For mayors Andy Watson (Rangitīkei) and Don Cameron (Ruapehu), the announcement on Monday went as expected.
"We are part of the Whanganui DHB, so we'll be treated as part of that greater entity," Watson said.
"I had hoped we'd be in orange, but was I totally surprised? No.
"Our vaccination rates aren't great, we are at the bottom of the field. To some extent, we've brought this upon ourselves. We have to take responsibility."
Watson said he had been going to his communities through every avenue he could "for quite some time" to give two messages.
"One - get vaccinated. Two - bother to scan in.
"Our scanning in is as great a concern to me. People can just pull up and charge into a dairy, and I can totally understand dairies saying they don't want to be the social police any longer."
Part of the reason for the low vaccination rate was the district's geography, Watson said.
"There are huge rural areas, some of them isolated communities, where they feel as though they're in their own little bubble and they'll be alright.
"The Rangitīkei is on State Highway One, it's a huge part of that road corridor. People travelling out of Auckland will stop for something to eat or to use the toilet.
"We're naive if we think Covid won't reach us."
Being in red would continue to affect events in the district, Watson said.
"Whether that's the Shemozzle, the Highland Games or Kiwiburn, we have a large number of them.
"People have looked forward to them and they've booked accommodation. We are not at Queenstown's level, but this does have an impact."
As for vaccine passes, Watson said his was printed and ready.
"Obviously we (council) will comply, because we need to protect our staff. We need to protect the integrity of the organisation for when Covid hits us."
Cameron said people who had been "standing on the sideline" when it came to getting vaccinated were now coming forward.
Like Watson, he was expecting a lot of people to travel to and through the district from the north.
"We are surrounded by Covid-positive cases and I think people are starting to get nervous.
"The big unknown is how the people who are anti-vax or vaccine-hesitant are going to be treated.
"There's no doubt there's going to be two types of public. We've got to be kind and carry on."
There was still some confusion in the community around the rules of the traffic light system, although that was to be expected, Cameron said.
"I think there are nerves within small business as well, as to how they are going to handle people who might get aggressive around mask-wearing or vaccination passes."
Cameron said Ruapehu District Council had been working closely with DHBs, police, NGO's, iwi and Civil Defense to prepare for the threat of Covid spreading.
"Another one is Rural Support, which is really important for us. If Covid gets into our more remote farms, we need to make sure families are safe and their businesses continue.
"We think most of the bases are covered, but of course you never know until it actually hits you."