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A couple on a South Island road trip say they weren't allowed inside Biggie's Pizza for a drink once they revealed they came from Auckland, despite having left the northern region more than two weeks ago.
The disgruntled would-be diner and her partner were left shocked and angry by the blanket refusal, saying they had no links to any Covid cases and did not pose a health risk.
But the Stuart St eatery, which is battling for survival, is making no apologies for its hardline stance banning the patrons, saying it has the right to turn away customers to protect staff and the business.
Restaurant owner Tacey Millard told the Otago Daily Times there was no blanket ban on people from Auckland.
Staff would ask patrons questions about things like their recent travel history and symptoms. Depending on their answers, and their attitude, a decision would be made about whether to let them into the premises, she said.
The couple in question were unhappy about being asked questions, and the restaurant manager decided not to let them dine there.
Since news of the issue broke, the restaurant had been receiving fake reviews and negative comments online, she said.
As long as businesses did not discriminate against people for reasons such as race or age, they could choose who they allowed on their premises, she said.
During the current alert level 2 it was a matter of taking ‘‘extreme precautions’’ in case a person with links to Auckland, where community transmission was ongoing, should bring Covid into their premises.
The 27-year-old woman, who had been in the South Island since the start of the month, said she was stunned when staff quizzed her about recent travel.
Questions included whether the couple had been to Auckland.
‘‘We said yes. They asked us when was the last time we had been there and we told them September 1.’’
At that point they were refused entry.
The couple had been touring across the mainland for more than a fortnight, supporting local businesses after recent travel restrictions were relaxed.
They had not been unwell during their southern holiday.
The pair also had no connection to Covid cases.
The woman, who did not want to be identified, said they couldn't believe they were being subject to this level of discrimination.
‘‘We have been road tripping around the South Island, trying to support local businesses and they have all been very welcoming aside from this bar. We were so shocked and angry that we were treated this way and it's not good enough," she said.
But restaurant owner Tacey Millard today said the ban was about protecting people in the midst of a pandemic.
‘‘We are taking extreme precautions and have the right to turn people away from the business in these situations," replied Millard on Facebook to the disgruntled Aucklander.
‘‘If you were in fact to have the virus, it could put us out of business entirely which is detrimental for a small business like ours.’’
- additionally reported by Daisy Hudson