Fleur’s Place closes due to confusion over vaccine mandate

The acclaimed Fleur's Place restaurant at Moeraki, near Oamaru, is expected to reopen on Monday.

MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF/Stuff

The acclaimed Fleur’s Place restaurant at Moeraki, near Oamaru, is expected to reopen on Monday.

Confusion over the rules for hospitality operators trying to navigate the Government’s new traffic light protection framework has led to the unexpected closure of a celebrated seaside restaurant at Moeraki.

Fleur’s Place announced it was temporarily closing on Friday, so staff could navigate the new rules following confusion over mandatory vaccinations for staff.

Staff member Mariebelle Winters said staff had met to discuss how to handle the situation on Thursday, as owner Fleur Sullivan was away in Fiordland and out of cellphone range.

“It was confusing, although perhaps we might have been a little naive.

“We were not sure if unvaccinated people could work or not,” Winters said.

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She said they had decided not to open the restaurant because some staff members were not vaccinated.

“It was not an easy decision.

“I rang everyone who were booked in for today, and this morning. I rang all those who are booked for Saturday and Sunday. Most people understand. We tried everything to try to keep the doors open.”

Winters said they would “take a breath” over the weekend and look for more staff. She said they planned to reopen on Monday.

Fleur Sullivan’s team made the decision to close her restaurant until Monday, so they could navigate the new rules.

MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF/Stuff

Fleur Sullivan’s team made the decision to close her restaurant until Monday, so they could navigate the new rules.

Fleur’s Place was not the only business confused over the Government mandate which means all staff working in the hospitality must be vaccinated with at least one dose by December 3 and a second dose by January 17 – regardless of whether a business chooses to operate under the vaccine pass system.

Hospitality South Canterbury branch president Kristy Phillips said the information for hospitality operators on the Government’s Covid-19 website had been contradictory and kept changing.

“The playing field is being changed at any given moment, we’re getting guidelines in the morning which are changed in the evening.”

“This has been a point of confusion this week,” Phillips said.

She said in recent weeks the Government had indicated that a venue choosing not to use the vaccine pass would be allowed to open to all, but operate under tighter restrictions at each level of the new traffic light framework.

New Zealand Hospitality South Canterbury branch president Kristy Phillips says guidelines are coming out from the Government in the morning that are changed in the evening.

John Bisset/Stuff

New Zealand Hospitality South Canterbury branch president Kristy Phillips says guidelines are coming out from the Government in the morning that are changed in the evening.

“This was our understanding up until last week, when the mandate was officially announced stating that all hospitality staff would be required to be vaccinated, even if the business chose not to use the My Vaccine Pass.

“When it changed I’m not sure that everyone got it.

“It was done with little notice and not a lot of explanation,” she said.

Phillips said the confusion over the need for all staff to be vaccinated was “another example of the frustrations trying to respect and support staff in their own personal decisions” for business owners who were trying to plan ahead.

Phillips said she expected there would be many points of confusion the sector would have to navigate in coming weeks.

On Tuesday, the owner of award-winning Riverstone Kitchen, near Oamaru, announced it would move to a click and collect service from Friday.

Chef and owner Bevan Smith said they would not be implementing the vaccine certificate system.

“We made the decision a while ago. Looking at the Government guidelines we can operate, but in a contactless way,” Smith said.

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