Amid reports of an Auckland restaurant implementing its own systems to identify vaccinated and non-vaccinated staff, a new survey of New Zealand Restaurant Association members shows a mixed response to vaccination passports for entry into hospitality venues.
When asked if they would support the introduction of a passport style document showing that a person has been vaccinated to enter hospitality venues and events, 26 per cent supported the idea but only at alert level 2 or higher; 23 per cent supported the idea at all levels and 16 per cent were unsure.
When asked what they perceived to be the main challenges with introducing a vaccine passport, dealing with customers who disregard the policy was ranked as the biggest challenge.
This was closely followed by the practicalities of enforcement which ranked as the second biggest challenge. Coming in third was the challenge around communicating the rule to both local and international customers.
Additional staffing and training ranked as the fourth and fifth biggest challenges for businesses.
This is the second time the Restaurant Association has surveyed its members on this topic and viewpoints are shifting as the Delta variant develops in the New Zealand community.
“An earlier survey conducted just before the delta outbreak showed 70 per cent of members were in support of vaccination passports but as the practicalities of managing customers on site has kicked in, our members are now seeing that the biggest challenge is in policing such a mandate,” said Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.
“It is clear from this feedback that hospitality businesses are actively thinking about how we live with Delta in the community and our establishments.
“While everyone wants to keep their staff and their customers safe, the practicalities of enforcing poses its challenges for our business owners.
“With some of the population likely to remain unvaccinated it means our businesses might be managing very complex situations.”
Meanwhile Auckland restaurateur and Mayoral candidate Leo Molloy reportedly plans to segregate his staff when his Viaduct restaurant, Headquarters, reopens at Level 2.
Molloy has said vaccinated staff would wear yellow T-Shirts and work indoors directly with customers. Non-vaccinated staff will be wearing charcoal T Shirts and work only outdoors, with kitchen staff and cleaners donning black T-Shirts. “All staff will wear masks. I wouldn’t want to be served by someone who isn’t vaccinated so I think customers would be happy if they know the person serving them is.” Molloy told the NZ Herald.
Molloy says he hasn’t had any pushback from his 60 staff and isn’t bothered about violating human rights.
“I haven’t put pressure on the staff to get vaccinated. I’ve taken legal advice and feel I am doing the right thing.”
During lockdown Molloy has cooked 300 meals a day to feed the homeless, the vulnerable and frontline workers at the Waipareira Trust.
Staff Vaccination Policies & Records
Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association reiterates that keeping staff and customers safe ‘is forefront in our members’ minds as we look to how our industry will operate in this new environment.’
“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will be a priority for our members, but we do need to recognise that in some instances the decision to not vaccinate is a personal choice.
“We have created a vaccination policy for members workplaces which is something that many business will be thinking about now if they have not already.
“If a business has the approval of its staff, then we don’t see any issue with them promoting the fact that their staff have been vaccinated as this may make some diners feel more comfortable dining in their establishment.
“We are not currently aware of any owners or managers wanting, planning or already doing this.
“Our advice to any business owner wanting to do this is to make sure that you have the approval of all of your staff and also to ensure that you have kept records of all staff vaccinations.“
Meanwhile in New South Wales
Following the NSW Premier’s announcement to open restaurants to double vaxxed only on Monday October 11 Rashays Restaurant founder Rami Ykmour has decided not to open his 30 restaurants until December 1, when everyone (vaxxed & unvaxxed) would be welcome.
Rami himself is vaccinated but feels it’s important to keep to his core values which is to ‘remain hospitable to everyone.’
Rami says: “You get into the hospitality business to welcome people, not turn people away. This will cost me millions of dollars but I just have to be true to who I am.”