How the struggling hospitality industry is planning to cope with another COVID-19 lockdown

Although only Auckland is in COVID-19 alert level 3 the impact of the city's lockdown is being felt across the country, according to experts in the hospitality industry.

With the sector still struggling from the nation-wide lockdown earlier in the year the potential implications of another shutdown are causing anxiety for restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels.

Executive director of New Zealand's Hotel Owners Association Amy Robens says the industry is trying to stay afloat - but with New Zealand's largest city in lockdown, it's not easy.

"With Auckland being at level 3 the impact on the rest of the country is really quite severe," she told Newshub on Friday.

"Conferences, meetings and holiday bookings across the country are being cancelled and the first impact [of the COVID-19 pandemic] was back in February, so we're all still very much in survival mode."

Robens says the industry was clinging to the hope of a trans-Tasman bubble to restore its profits, but with Victoria in the grips of a severe outbreak, that hope is fading. 

Although the Government has encouraged New Zealanders to get out and spend locally to revive hospitality businesses, Robens says it's just not enough.

"All the work around encouraging Kiwis to explore their backyard has been really welcome -but it  hasn't provided the volume we need and now under the current restrictions even that is gone."

It's not just hotels which are feeling the pinch - Marisa Bidois from the Restaurants Association says the new lockdown has caused uncertainty across the sector.

"It's an industry that can be difficult to make a profit as it is and with these restrictions it's even harder," she told The AM Show.

The last time the country was in alert level 3 Bidois says around 60 percent of restaurants could operate in some capacity - but only serving takeaways is hard to turn a profit.

She says this time around the Government has improved its communication.

"At the first level 2 and 3 no one knew what was going on," she said,

"Getting information from the Government was really difficult, but this time we've seen a real change, there's been good communication and we all know exactly what we need to be doing."

Auckland will remain in alert level 3, and the rest of the country at alert level 2 until at least 5:30pm on Friday when the Prime Minister will address the nation about whether the lockdown will be extended.

The lockdown follows an outbreak of community transmitted COVID-19 in Auckland. The cluster of cases began with a family of four, and has now spread to 17 cases across the city.

It is not yet known how the first person contracted the virus.