Eateries to close or go contactless

Riverstone Kitchen owner Bevan Smith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Riverstone Kitchen owner Bevan Smith. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A popular North Otago restaurant is among hospitality businesses in the South to decide against adopting vaccine mandates as at least two are set to close over the stance.

Before the traffic light system comes into force on Friday, the Otago Daily Times has learned of three hospitality businesses in Otago that have decided against implementing the vaccine pass and requiring customers and staff to be vaccinated.

This included award-winning Riverstone Kitchen, near Oamaru, which has opted to offer contactless takeaways rather than implement the mandate.

The Fort Enfield, also near Oamaru, and Tarras Country Cafe in Central Otago have both opted to close while accusing the Government of discrimination for implementing the mandate.

Riverstone Kitchen owner Bevan Smith said the restaurant would operate under Government guidelines for contactless service from this weekend.

Mr Smith would not comment on why it was not adopting the vaccination pass and "could not" disclose his staff’s vaccination status for privacy reasons.

"We will be reassessing the situation regularly, but for this weekend, we will only be offering contactless," he said.

"This is the biggest thing to happen to the industry in the 30 years that I have been a chef - each and every business is going to navigate it as best as they can.

"It’s been a complex, confusing narrative from the Government and difficult to navigate."

In a Facebook post The Fort Enfield announced the tavern would be closed until further notice once the traffic light system came into effect.

"This isn’t a decision we ever thought we’d be having to make," it said. "Discrimination is becoming normalised."

A month after winning an award in the annual Eat.Taste.Central awards, the Tarras Country Cafe closes tomorrow.

The move comes a day before the Government’s traffic light system comes into effect.

An emotional post made by owner Emily Todd announcing the closure was shared on the cafe’s social media page on Sunday.

"It’s taken me quite a few days to write this down, mainly because it makes me cry."

The post said tomorrow would by "my family’s last day at our cafe" and it would not open on Friday.

"I can not, and will not run my business when I have to discriminate against who I can and can’t employ, and who I can and can’t let in my doors."

Yesterday, Mrs Todd reiterated her belief the traffic light system was discriminatory.

"I am only allowed to employ double-vaxed people and I am only allowed to let double-vaxed people in."

That was not something she was prepared to comply with, she said.

Under Orange when the traffic light system comes into force, hospitality venues, such as cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, can open with no restrictions if they follow the rules for vaccine passes.

If a venue chooses not to follow the pass requirements, it can open only for contactless pick-up or delivery.




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