Traffic light anxiety

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Business as usual . . . Nothing changes for North Gore Dairy owner Allison Tilson (left) and staff member Nicole Ford when the traffic light system kicks in on Friday, but not all businesses are as lucky. PHOTO: MICHAEL CURREEN

Some Gore business leaders fear they will lose customers when the country enters the traffic light system on Friday.

The South Island will be in Orange, which means big changes for some while it is business as usual for others.

Restaurants and bars are required to check customers have a My Vaccine Pass in order to operate without restrictions.

Mataura Licensing Trust senior manager Glenn Dickson said their venues would lose customers as a result.

“It’s going to be quite tough. If they’re not double vaccinated then they can’t come into our units.

“We’ve just got to follow what the law tells us to do.”

“We’re going to be alienating some of our awesome customers.”

He was also worried for his staff, who had already faced abuse over Covid-19 restrictions.

“I know it’s going to be very hard to tell staff to ask customers not to come in because they’re not vaccinated. I know that will put a lot of pressure on our staff.”

“This is new for everyone. We’ve just got to be kind and patient and we’ll get through it.”

St James Theatre manager Paul McPhail said his staff would also check for vaccine passes.

“We’re in a corner, really. If we’ve got to go down the vaccine certificate scenario. Otherwise we’re closed to public screenings.”

The theatre would also be able to put on live shows again, which had not been possible under current restrictions.

Another benefit to the new system meant there were no restrictions once people were inside, Mr McPhail said.

“We don’t have to separate people in seating.”

However he was concerned for people who did not know how to obtain a My Vaccine Pass.

“There’s a lot of older people who have rung me up and are struggling to get the paperwork sorted out.

“That’s going to be disappointing for people, but that will sort out in time, I imagine.”

Rustic Cafe and Restaurant owner Marietjie Vorster is putting together a plan for Friday.

“There’s some grey areas and it is tricky, so we are working with Hospitality New Zealand to give us the guidelines to see how we are going to operate,” she said.

She did not want to discriminate between vaccinated and unvaccinated customers.

“We are allowed unvaccinated people as long as they are in an area that has got different air flow to the rest of the premises.

“Whether that’s doable in our establishment is something to be looked at.”

Customers would be checked for vaccine passes, but “if they come in a group, I could seat them separate and they would be handled and treated totally separate with separate facilities.

“It is not a nice thing that is happening. I can understand why, but it is segregation. This is what we have to do, unfortunately.”

Takeaway options would also be available in a different area of the building for all customers, with or without a vaccine pass, she said.

Gore District Council communications and marketing manager Sonia Gerken said everyone would still be able to access council facilities.

“In line with the guidance we have received around the Government’s protection framework [traffic light system], which comes into effect on Friday, the council will not ask customers at our facilities to provide a vaccine pass. This is subject to regular review and change as central Government continues to refine its framework.

“Customers will need to continue to wear face masks and ensure social distancing.”

North Gore Dairy owner Allison Tilson said her business was classified as essential so people would still be able to shop as they had under Alert Level 2, whether they were vaccinated or not.

“We don’t ask for vaccine passes. Supermarkets are the same.

“Nothing’s changed for us. It’s capacity limits as long as everyone’s maintaining a metre distance. Masks are still mandatory.”

One retailer said staff would not be checking vaccine passes as they would be operating contactlessly.