COVID-19: Businesses foresee supply issues, income drops as most of New Zealand prepares for alert level 3

Wednesday marks the opportunity for many businesses to get back to work for anywhere south of Auckland following a strict COVID-19 lockdown.

But splitting the country off at midnight could come with major supply issues, with Auckland still in level 4 and lots of businesses in level 3 requiring products that Auckland isn't able to dispatch under lockdown.

Not many fresh flowers in Christchurch's Harakeke Florist on Tuesday - but 24 hours later it will be a different story.

Level 3 means many retailers can open with click and collect and deliveries, but the tills won't be ringing as loudly. 

"We will be expecting about a 60 percent drop in income," Harakeke Florist's Laura McQuire said.

The construction industry is also back on the tools, but in second gear.

"We can't work as fast and as close together so inherently it does slow you down, but we're working, it's better than sitting at home," said EXO Construction's Simon Payton.

This is level 3 like last year, with a mandatory mask slapped on top.

"Businesses and services must be contactless and meet safety requirements including physical distancing, having extra hygiene in place and staff wearing face coverings and contactless options for ordering, pick up, delivery and payment," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Some businesses foresee supply issues. Auckland is still in level 4 lockdown and that's where many of their supplies come from. 

"We're trying to understand what that looks like, where the real choke points are across that supply chain and also understanding the degree of size of that issue," said Leanne Watson of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce.

Many contractors and retailers depend on Auckland based distribution centres which, if not considered essential, will be closed.

"We're trying to work with the Government to work with some of the production and distribution centres that are in Auckland that haven't been able to operate in lockdown in a safe and managed way to get some of them open," Watson said.

"Deliveries could be very interesting; a lot of material that is brought in from overseas, it goes to the ports up north - so getting that down here is going to be slower," said Payton.

The real estate industry can also go back to work on Wednesday with restrictions.

"Level 3 just means that we can do up to two viewings a day so we can get out and about obviously with some restrictions in place," said Ray White's Paula Standeven.

"They can't touch anything at the property, they need to wear a mask, two people in at a time," Simon Standeven added.

Come the witching hour on Tuesday night, it will be more than just leaves blowing up the country's main streets south of Auckland.