Auckland mayor Phil Goff says there has to be a price to pay for not getting vaccinated, as the region heads into another fortnight of level 3 restrictions.
Residents are expressing frustration about what will be an 11-week lockdown and businesses are calling for more support.
The government is heading towards a different approach to managing Covid-19 when vaccination rates are high, and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said a vaccination target of 90 percent would feature "prominently".
Goff told Morning Report a target of 90 percent double vaccinated effectively means 94 percent having at least the first dose and that was "very aspirational".
"We need to maximise the number of people being vaccinated but we can't wait for the last reluctant person to be vaccinated before we decide that it's safe to relax the restrictions."
There had to be sanctions alongside encouragement and incentives, and good access to vaccines, he said.
"Nobody's going to force anybody to be vaccinated," he said, but businesses were within their rights to exclude people who were not double vaccinated from events.
The government was trying to buy time, and New Zealand had to avoid being like Melbourne or Sydney with thousands in hospital and dozens dying, but the region needed businesses operating again.
"We want our life back to normal," he said.
"There has to be a price to be paid for not getting vaccinated and that may be access to hospitality areas, it will be access to events and it may be access to a whole lot of jobs that are public facing." Exceptions will have to be made for people who can't get vaccinated, he said.
Goff acknowledged the government had put more than $1 billion into wage subsidies and hundreds of millions into resurgence payments, but said many companies could not survive much longer in lockdown.
"We need some extra help for those businesses that were otherwise viable but will go under if we've got a further prolonged period of restrictions."
He was "really pleased" Finance Minster Grant Robertson was announcing further help for businesses on Friday, he said.