Business owners who can comply with strict Covid-19 safety measures for each alert level should be able to trade, says Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett.
Barnett said allowing shops to open if they can stick to strict compliance would be safer but also better for the economy than deeming some services essential and excluding others.
"Surely it's a case of compliance? If you give a set of strict conditions and if a business knows it can provide a service while complying it can open.
"If there is contact tracing on every visit what better way to get everyone to download and use the Government app?"
Barnett said excluding small, family-owned fruit and vege shops but allowing a dairy to trade was an example of how unfair and illogical the current system was.
"Small businesses are often better equipped than some of the bigger stores to keep things in check."
Amber McIvor, who owns Verdo Parnell, specialising in nails, brows, cosmetic tattooing, and skin treatments, said with the right precautions businesses like hers could operate safely.
"With mandatory masks, me wearing a visor, sanitising and temperature and pre-visit health checks I could provide some services safely.
"Otherwise we are going to see a lot of closures, a lot of small businesses will not survive another lockdown."
Hair salons, massage therapists, chiropractors and physiotherapists cannot operate in level 3 because of social distancing requirements.
These businesses have seen a glimmer of hope in recent months with a surge in bookings after lockdown.
McIvor is now concerned that any recovery will be lost for these businesses if level 3 extends further than Friday midnight.
University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker told the Herald in the worst-case scenario, lockdown could extend for seven weeks.
He said it came down to determining how far the outbreak had already spread and if a direct link to an overseas case could be identified.
McIvor said seven weeks would close already struggling businesses - wage subsidy or not.
"Businesses could absorb the losses of three days but if it goes longer than that, and it seems it will, then we need to be able to manage our businesses so they survive," she said.
"I know of plenty of business owners just like me who could do this safely so they are still able to feed their families and pay rent and mortgages."
Under alert level 3
Essential services will remain open.
This includes supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies and petrol stations.
Physical distancing rules apply so smaller spaces like petrol stations and dairies must operate a "one-in-one-out" policy.
Many other retailers, including clothing and gift stores, bookshops and garden centres, are still set up to provide contactless service from the previous lockdown. They can take online and phone orders with delivery or contactless pick-up.
Other stores such as electrical and appliances can deliver goods.
Cafes and restaurants can still offer takeaways and operate a drive-thru.
Liquor stores operate if they can offer contactless pick-up and delivery.