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Ahead of the traffic light system coming into force on Friday, the Otago Daily Times has learned of three hospitality businesses in Otago which 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 instead of implementing the mandate.
The Fort Enfield, also near Oamaru, and Tarras Country Cafe 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,’’ Mr Smith 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 decision to close the tavern 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. What has happened to our country?’’ it stated.
‘‘Discrimination is becoming normalised."
A month after claiming a gong in the annual Eat.Taste.Central awards the Tarras Country Cafe is to close its doors 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 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.’’
Under orange when the new traffic light system comes into force, hospitality venues, such as cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, can open with no restrictions if they followed the rules for vaccine passes.
That meant only people with a pass were allowed to be there, staff or customers.
If a venue chose not to follow the pass requirements, it can open for contactless pick-up or delivery only.
The Government says it is using mandates to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and as a tool to reach the 90% vaccination target.
The Ministry of Health recommended all eligible people get vaccinated, saying clinical trials found the Pfizer vaccine gave 95% protection against the symptoms of Covid-19.
Those who do get Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated are likely to get milder symptoms and be less likely to pass it on.
- by Ruby Heyward and Jared Morgan