An Invercargill business owner says it’s “gutting” to lose unvaccinated customers but she’s grateful the regulations will keep her shops open in the long-term.
The country moved to the Covid-19 traffic light system on Friday, with the South Island in orange. And it means close contact businesses, including cafes, bars, restaurants and gyms, require customers to show proof of vaccine passes when entering their stores.
Make ‘n Bake owner Tina Nicholas was outside her Kelvin St shop checking the vaccine passes of customers before they entered on Friday.
Most customers had no issues with the request, but a couple of people, including a regular, had walked out when asked.
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It was “gutting” to lose her regular customer, who had “revved up the car and sped off”, she said.
“But these are Jacinda’s rules and they will keep us open when Covid hits [in Southland] and I am grateful for that.”
Retailers have the option of asking the public for vaccine passes, with Gore’s Go Retail spokesman Doug Grant saying he was unaware of any issues for the town’s businesses around the issue on Friday.
“Most of the public is accepting it. It’s something that’s here to stay until we get more on top of this Covid pandemic.”
Grant, a district councillor and owner of Paper Plus, said his biggest seller in recent days had been laminating vaccine passports for customers, especially those in the older age bracket.
The first day of the traffic light system resulted in more than 300 people marching through Invercargill streets in protest at the Government’s vaccine mandates and in favour of “freedom of choice”.
Many had placards, with one saying: “Take your mask off and smell the bullshit.”
Among those at the rally was Rachel Anderson-Evans, a mother of five who said her choice to be unvaccinated had resulted in the loss of her school teaching job and the end of her “beloved” cross-fit classes.
She couldn’t teach as the Government had mandated vaccines for teachers, and she couldn’t go to crossfit classes without a vaccine pass to get in.
Anderson-Evans said she was in tears on the way to the protest but excited to be surrounded by so many supportive people at the rally, though she believed uncertain times were ahead.
She planned to wait a few years to see data outlining the effects of the Pfizer vaccine before deciding whether to get the jab.
Jacob Cottle, also at the protest, said the Government had segregated the population with its Covid rules and it had caused division among many people.
Early on Friday evening, Invercargill Licencing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay said there had been no major issues during the day with people going to the trust’s establishments.
“People have been pretty understanding. The only issue we’ve had has been people showing the vaccine card they got when they were jabbed to get in, but the rules are pretty specific that you have to have the My Vaccine Pass, so unfortunately we’ve been unable to allow those people in.
“We have been proactive in telling people which chemists they can go to, to get their passes, or how they can download them onto their phones.’’
A police spokesperson said they were not aware of any issues with vaccine passports that police had to attend, right around the country.