The reintroduction of the Covid-19 red traffic light setting will lead to a "visible downturn" in tourism, says the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive.
Yesterday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move to the red traffic light setting.
She expected the country to stay at red for "some weeks".
Nine virus cases in Motueka were confirmed to have the Omicron variant, meaning it's circulating in Auckland and possibly in the Nelson area, Ardern said.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard thought people would be hesitant to travel domestically at red.
"When Rotorua was in red previously, it was a visible downturn in domestic tourism," he said. "It's a downturn on a downturn.
"There's gonna be a lot of sectors suffering, but it is what it is – no one knows the answers to this thing.
"The government's doing their best. Whether they're right or wrong, only time will tell."
Deepak Kundal, who owns several restaurants in Rotorua, said the move was "shocking".
He said the move came in the midst of an already difficult summer and the restrictions would cut his capacity in half.
"We've never seen a summer like that before. The numbers that we used to do, we're not near to that," he said.
"We're already struggling, and then another 50 per cent drop – it just kills."
Hennessy's Irish Bar owner Reg Hennessy wished there had been more warning and preparation to assist businesses to transition to red.
"It would've been nice to have sort of had a better plan put in place over the last couple of weeks, rather than just finding this out...it's sort of coming as pretty much a slap in the face," Hennessy said.
"We've got to look after staff as well as customers and we've got to look after our suppliers.
"You don't just go and flick a switch and go from one [level] to the other. It's not quite that simple."
He said his bar was lucky to have lots of outdoor seating and plenty inside.
"We'll do what we've got to, and I'm sure we'll get through it."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said people should also make plans for what they will do if they or a family member contracted the virus.
"With Omicron it's about slowing its spread and we all have a role to play in minimising its impact on our community.
"Let's stick together and look out for one another."
Lakes District Health Board chief operating officer Alan Wilson said Omicron will likely be in Rotorua "any day."
"Omicron is on our doorstep," he said. "The forecast number of people who will get Omicron is very worrying and vaccination is now more than ever critical."
He said getting the vaccine is now "urgent".
Meanwhile, Rotorua MP Todd McClay said the move back to red would be "demoralising" for many residents.
He said families and small businesses were "only just surviving" and the move would make it "really tough for a lot of people".
McClay thought holidaymakers and visitors "were less likely to come – that's going to put real pressure on the local economy, and that means there are businesses that have done everything asked of them that will find it hard to survive. I really feel for them.
"It feels like this could be here for a very long time."
He called on the government to make sure the Rotorua Hospital had the capacity to cope with both Omicron and other operations and treatments.
90% vaccine milestone reached
The Lakes District Health Board region has reached the 90 per cent fully vaccinated milestone for people aged 12 and over.
Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said the DHB wanted to acknowledge the "incredible mahi" in reaching the 90 per cent target.
"The effort has been huge. This is the biggest vaccination programme undertaken in New Zealand."
Saville-Wood said it was a "really collaborative effort" by many, and could not have been done without the "significant support" of iwi, primary health organisations and its practices, pharmacists, DHB staff and communities who believed the vaccine was the best protection for themselves and their whānau.
The goal had always been to ensure Māori communities reached the 90 per cent target alongside the rest of the communities, he said.
"Getting Māori to 90 per cent continues to be our priority and we will work together with our iwi partners to try new innovation to reach those whānau we need to reach this really important milestone."
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said he was delighted to hit the 90 per cent milestone for the team who worked so hard to get the community to this point.
"I thank them for their energy and dedication in helping to keep our community safe.
"All residents in our rohe can be proud of the contribution they have made to achieving this great result. Through this achievement, we are saving lives."
Morrison wanted to thank frontline health workers, especially those working in MIQ.
Three step approach
The Government will be taking a three-stage approach to the point where New Zealand sees 1000 cases a day.
Stage one will be the familiar stamp it out approach, with contact tracing and testing, including rapid antigen tests. Stage two will be a transition stage. The third stage will see changes to contact tracing, and further details on the three stages will be released at a later date, Ardern said.
Given New Zealand's low number of Delta cases, we have the capacity in our system to slow down the virus, Ardern said.
"The difference to previous outbreaks is we are now well vaccinated and well prepared."
The decision to move to red has hinged on the results of genome sequencing for several Covid cases with no clear link to the border.
Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday "we don't yet know the source of these community cases".
The group from Nelson attended a wedding in Auckland on January 13, as well as a funeral, an amusement park and the Sky Tower.
They flew back to Nelson on January 16, on a flight shared by an Air NZ crew member who has also tested positive with Omicron. He then worked on a further four flights, which are all now locations of interest. One-hundred-and-fifty people on those flights have been contacted and those efforts continued this morning.
Health officials are working to understand how exactly the nine Motukea cases became infected. The level of community transmission from the group is expected to be high, Bloomfield said.
Red is the most restrictive traffic light setting but domestic travel can continue.
While lockdowns would not be widespread, there could be lockdowns localised to a workplace or school, for example, depending on what was happening in the outbreak.
In red, face coverings are mandatory when travelling on public transport, in retail and to an extent in education. Public facilities and retail outlets are open, with capacity limits.
With a vaccine pass, many businesses and events can have a maximum of 100 people, including hospitality, gyms, weddings and tangihanga. Without passes, hospitality services must remain contactless and the aforementioned gatherings are limited to 25 people.
Education centres stay open but with extra health measures including year four and up will be required to wear masks.
Tertiary students must study remotely if they don't have a vaccine pass but schools will open as planned, Ardern said.
Gyms and close contact businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons can open in red as long as public health measures are in place.
The Government was not considering the closure of hospitality but they would continue to review the situation, Ardern said.