COVID-19: Auckland bearing brunt of lockdown and restrictions on some businesses could get tougher

The alert levels are chopping and changing all over the country from Northland to the south, but it's Auckland that's bearing the brunt and its extended level four could yet get tougher for some businesses.

Even in lockdown the show must go on for essential services. But it's risky business, and the Delta variant could be anywhere - something Ports of Auckland's Matt Ball is all too aware of. 

"It's like a smell. You come into a room and you can smell something, if someone has been in a room with Delta, then you're probably going to catch it if you don't have protection," he told Newshub. 

The Ports of Auckland have put in place rigid restrictions, especially in social areas. But businesses who aren't may soon be forced to follow suit.

"We're seeing if there's more we can add in that guidance, and of course continuing to check if those workplaces that are open, should be," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

It's thought tea rooms and other shared spaces are the reason essential workers have been testing positive.

The Sistema Plastics Factory in Mangere has closed its doors for a deep clean after one of its 700 workers tested positive.

"I'm concerned in that we want to see no essential workers getting infected in the first place and potentially being infectious out there," said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 

So far, 101 essential workers have tested positive for COVID-19, but most are from early on. Seven have been infected at work, four of them infectious while working. 

Dr Bloomfield said there are plans to "have a really deep dive into each of those cases to see exactly what happened there". 

But stricter lockdown rules can't come soon enough for scientists... or Delta. 

"We have to change. We know this virus is transmitted very easily indoors as an aerosol. It doesn't care about the one or two metre rule," said Professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at Otago University. 

National leader Judith Collins says it wouldn't be necessary if the Government had done its job in the first place.

"I think the point is very clearly, the Government needs to get those essential workers vaccinated, and also roll out the saliva testing and roll out the rapid antigen testing."

For some smaller and medium sized businesses - like bakers, Loaf NZ - doing more would mean reducing already reduced teams which could reduce them to nothing. 

"Financially it would be crippling," founder Sean Armstrong told Newshub. "If the restrictions get tougher is it worth being open? Can we afford to open?"

Extending alert level 4 is tough enough.

"How do I feel? Do you want me to give you the TV opinion or my honest opinion?" Armstrong asked. 

"F***ing assholes," he laughed. "Oh, it's annoying."

There is general consensus in the country that we've got to do what we've got to do. 

But there's a growing and as you heard - emphatic view - that if the Government had been more proactive after our last lockdown, perhaps the restrictions wouldn't need to be quite so extreme now.