Rotorua has moved into the new era of vaccine passes and traffic light restrictions, with businesses and customers reporting some confusion and delays but no major issues on the first day.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard told the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend he had noticed some places were using the vaccine pass "well" but others were "totally ignoring it".
"It's the first day ... people are confused. It hasn't been well explained until the very last minute," he told the Rotorua Daily Post Weekend.
Rotorua joined Auckland, Northland, Taupō, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts at the red setting at 11.59 on Thursday night.
The rest of the North Island, including Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty, and all of the South Island went into orange.
The new traffic light system replaces alert levels. Regional colour settings are determined by factors such as local outbreaks, vaccination rates and hospital capacity.
My Vaccine Pass records are required when visiting cafes, bars and restaurants. If a hospitality business chose not to use the vaccine pass it must operate contactlessly.
Local councils were given the option to choose whether or not to bar unvaccinated people from their public buildings.
Wilson's Barber Shop owner Glen Atkinson said during the morning yesterday it had been hit and miss with the vaccine passes.
"Most have had the passes but some haven't. We've had a couple of clients booked in but when asked they didn't have it.
"But so far so good, at the moment everyone has been kind."
He said they would lose some customers and gain some.
"It will be hard for a lot of people. That's the rules though. We've got to do it."
Ngongotahā Cafe Dynasti owner Liz Todd had said in general yesterday morning had been "pretty cruisy".
"Some people are still confused. They say, 'Oh did that start today?' things like that.
"We tell them, no vaccine pass, no entry and that's just the law."
Todd said most people were pretty understanding. "Some people go back and get their pass if they've forgotten it.
"The girls have helped a couple of people download their passes."
Sequoia Eatery manager Carrie Liu said no one had complained about the vaccination passes yet even if the process of scanning did affect customer service.
"It does slow us down a little bit. First, we have to explain how it works and then scan, on top of our normal work.
"Everyone has been very patient and understanding."
Liu said a few customers had already called ahead to ask if vaccine passports would be needed at the eatery.
Liu hoped as everybody got used to the system the process would become easier.
"Lots of our customers are regular and we know them."
Ali (who did not want to give his last name), from Don Kebab on Tarawera Rd, said staff and customer safety was the most important.
Don Kebab did not have a vaccine pass sign on the door but Ali said his staff were checking.
"Everyone who works here is double vaccinated," he said.
"Many customers come in and are happy to scan. It is just good to get back into business. We are ready for the summer."
BurgerFuel Redwoods owner Roddy Hendl said the change was still taking some people by surprise but there had been no problems.
"It's going good so far."
Hendl said it would be a matter of time for customers to get used to the traffic light system.
Visitors from Whakatāne Brian Skilling and Lynne Rutland both had their vaccine passports handy and had no problem going in and out of shops.
But Rutland said she would not want to be the person behind the counter.
"It's going to be hard to turn people away. Some people are going to be nasty."
Skilling wondered how many people had false passports.
"It's hard enough to ask for the passport. I don't know how they would tell it's really yours."
One Rotorua shopper, who did not want to be named, said she had her vaccine pass and had used it at the Central Mall twice yesterday morning.
She said it was easy - they just looked at your pass and then you were "good to go".
Her niece had helped her to get the vaccine pass sorted, and she had it printed out and on her phone, she said.
Lisa Rust said she was glad she got her vaccine pass.
She had a little difficulty downloading the pass, but it was fantastic now that she had it.
She had to help her mum to get the vaccine pass, so she thought there might be elderly people having some difficulties.
Another Rotorua shopper, who did not want to be named, said she had found the first day of the traffic light system and vaccine passes fine.
"I'm very happy to do anything that keeps people safe," she said.
She said the only thing that had been tricky with getting the vaccine passes was having to have three different emails for everyone in the household.
She hoped elderly and disabled people who might have trouble with this sort of thing had enough support in place.
Ngongotahā-based hypnotherapist Caroline Back said she found the vaccine passes simple to get and easy to use.
"I think it's in place to keep us all safe in the unprecedented times."
Back, who yesterday morning had been to a cafe with friends, said so far she hadn't encountered any problems.
"We'll see how it goes. So far it's working fine."
However, Back did anticipate there would be some practical difficulties.
"You do forget your phone sometimes."
She also said getting vaccination passes for children over 12 who didn't have devices could be complicated.
The inability to get vaccine passes for shared email addresses could also cause problems.
"Everyone just needs to be kind and patient with each other."
A police spokesperson said there had been no significant issues relating to My Vaccine Pass in the Rotorua area yesterday.
"There is always a period of adjustment when changes are made to settings and we expect this to be the same with the move to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework.
"Police will focus on helping people understand what the changes mean through its education and engagement approach."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said these were "really challenging times".
"It's especially sad to see events that our community loves having to be cancelled or postponed, and hard having to apply restrictions in public facilities and businesses."
She said the city was open for business and was sure all businesses were doing their best to manage within the guidelines that are in place to protect people and the economy.
"We want to be moving out of red as soon as possible so we need to keep working on getting our vaccination rates up."
While the rates were creeping up, she said "we need to keep pushing".
Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive's group deputy chief executive Craig Tiriana said people had generally been accepting of the new vaccine requirements to enter council facilities such as the customer centre, the library and the aquatic centre.
He said the council had been offering alternative ways to get services and transactions for those without vaccine passes.