Christchurch restaurant penalised for Covid-19 breaches

The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant on St Asaph St. Photo: RNZ / Jean Edwards
The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant on St Asaph St. Photo: RNZ / Jean Edwards
A Christchurch restaurant has been issued three infringement notices for failing to comply with Covid-19 requirements.

WorkSafe New Zealand says The Lotus-Heart has failed to display signage signalling whether it requires My Vaccine Pass use or not in a prominent place, isn't displaying a QR Code in a prominent place, and doesn't have systems or processes to check My Vaccine Pass status of patrons.

The combined infringement notices total $20,000.

"WorkSafe has been looking into this since September, and these infringement notices are the result of an unwillingness of the business to engage with WorkSafe or change their practices," said WorkSafe's head of general inspectorate Simon Humphries.

Despite the St Asaph St business refusing to communicate with WorkSafe, its inspector has "gathered enough information" to find that the business isn't meeting even the bare minimum of what it's supposed to do.

"I'm sure other hospitality businesses in Christchurch will be disappointed to learn about this business, but it's not a reflection of the overwhelming majority of restaurants across the country who are working hard to look after their patrons," Humphries said.

"I know the hospitality industry has been needing time to consider what the new rules mean for them and I want to reassure them we're not jumping straight to infringement notices."

When a concern is raised with WorkSafe, they say they first look to talk to the business and check what they're doing and if their practices are correct.

If there's "a gap in their understanding we work with them to fix it" and that's normally the end of the matter, Humphries said.

"It takes a sustained period of observed non-compliance for us to escalate, which is what's happened with The Lotus-Heart," he said.

"As the business is continuing to operate as a dine-in restaurant, workers must be vaccinated.

"Vaccination status hasn't been determined at this point but if the business is found to be non-compliant in this area a separate infringement notice could be issued."

The restaurant has 28 days to pay the infringement fees.

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