The lockdown brought a "golden period" for the Bay of Plenty's hospitality scene to a screeching halt.
After months of bumper trade, it is back to online orders and contactless deliveries for some hospitality businesses as the country moves to alert level 3 tomorrow.
However, some say it is "level 2 or nothing" as they eagerly wait for restaurant doors to open.
The latest data from the Restaurant Association of New Zealand shows the region's trade was up 22.4 per cent from the 2019 June quarter, recording quarterly sales of $196.8 million compared to $160.8m.
Quarterly sales also jumped 5.6 per cent from March to June 2021.
Bay trading was up a whopping 102.3 per cent compared to the 2020 June quarter when the country was in alert level restrictions and recorded quarterly sales of $97.3m.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said the return to level 4 was a "devastating interruption to what was proving to be a golden period".
However, Bidois said hospitality has continued to show resilience, recording sales growth that exceeded pre-Covid levels.
"Despite the pandemic, our industry just continues to grow, showing just what an appetite there is from Kiwis to dine out."
While industry sales continued to regain lost ground, Bidois said recruitment challenges were widely recognised as the "most critical factor" affecting the industry, with staff shortages forcing businesses to operate at reduced capacity.
Yesterday the Government confirmed the move down to level 3 at 11.59pm tonight would go ahead as planned south of Auckland and will be reviewed on Monday.
There were 53 new community cases announced yesterday and director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were encouraging signs with most of Sunday's 83 cases not considered infectious in the community nor creating new exposure events.
Reg Hennessy, Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty president and owner of Hennessy's Irish Bar, said the hospitality sector was "chugging along nicely" pre-lockdown.
"New Zealanders were out there travelling and spending."
Hennessy said his bar would not open in level 3 because hospitality was about the experience, enjoyment and company of others.
Pig and Whistle and Capers Cafe owner Gregg Brown said his sales figures for April/May were slightly behind what they were in 2019 but "we were very busy".
"Because we had gone through a cost-cutting process our results were still very strong.
"We are in a much better position to get through lockdowns this time than we were last time because of the buoyant trade we had between the alert levels."
However, he felt Rotorua's trade levels were still not quite where they used to be.
"We haven't had the conferences and international travellers but events have made the difference for us."
In level 3, Brown said Capers Cafe would be open for online orders and contactless pick-up.
"It's become part of our business so we will just reopen that."
Brown said there will be a two-hour window for customers to pick up their online orders.
The Pig and Whistle would remain closed until alert level 2.
"Hopefully we get to level 2 quickly."
Andy Allan from the Good Eastern Taphouse said it was not going to open in level 3.
"We've thought long and hard about it," he said.
"But we need bums on seats. It's level 2 or nothing."
Allan said all businesses, not just hospitality would be feeling the effects of the latest lockdown.
"I think there is a bit more urgency this time. Everyone is eager for the doors to open and to get down to level 2 as fast as we can."
Tauranga business owner Josh Fitzgerald said the latest lockdown "definitely put the brakes on things"
"Going into last lockdown there was anxiety as to whether people would come out and eat but we did bounce back quite quickly ...
"I think people by default don't have anywhere else to go."
There were also a lot more hospitality venues and options for people to dine from this time around, he said.
Heading into alert level 3 on Wednesday, Fitzgerald said it was back to online orders and contactless delivery for his two Mexican restaurants The Barrio Brothers in Mount Maunganui and Flying Burrito Brothers in Tauranga.
He said an online shop had also been set up for his Italian restaurant Sugo on Wharf St.
It will allow customers to order all the ingredients needed to cook a Sugo-inspired meal at home for Father's Day on Sunday.
"It will come with instructions and a link to a video," he said.
"It's Sugo at Home."
If successful, Fitzgerald said the business would continue the online meal-kit into the future.
"The alert levels make you do something you wouldn't have always done so if it is something people want we will look to continue it.
"You've got to make the most of it."
Jessica Rafferty, who owns Crown and Badger and Volare on The Strand, said it was a "really good time" in hospitality pre-lockdown.
"People were coming out all week for lunch, dinner and at weekends.
"It was really lovely to see considering such hard times."
This time in level 3 they would be doing something different and creating meal kits for customers to order online and make at home, she said.
"They will be two and three-course meals with a menu each week."
Rafferty said supporting local businesses would be more important than ever after this latest lockdown.
"There are still a lot of venues unable to cope with extended alert level restrictions and that community support will be needed for the next couple of years I think."