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‘A survival decision’: Difficult choices for businesses as red light looms

NOT FOREVER: Darryl Monteith at Smash Palace says controlling the door to his establishment will be a challenge under the vaccine passport system. “But at least we will be able to return to doing show.”File picture

WITH Tairawhiti's double-vaccination rate at 73.4 percent, the region is fast approaching an “unwanted” red light situation, forcing businesses to make “unideal” choices to survive.

All of New Zealand will move into the Covid-19 Protection Framework at 11.59pm on Thursday, December 2, making Friday, December 3, the first day the traffic light system will be in full operation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday.

“Setting the date now gives people, communities and businesses time to prepare to move safely and smoothly into the new traffic light system.

“Decisions on what colour each region will move into will be confirmed on November 29, giving regions time to drive up vaccination rates further.

“As previously said, Auckland will enter at red. The settings for other regions will be based on factors like vaccination levels, but Cabinet has already confirmed that no region will start at Green while we are transitioning and managing a current outbreak.”

The new system will move Gisborne out of Alert Level 2 and into one of the traffic light stages (red/orange/green) and will work in conjunction with the Government's vaccine “passport” system for proof of double-vaccination status.

The Government has indicated a 90 percent double vaccination rate will be require to move into Orange, which would allow more freedoms.

Entry at Red will be more restrictive than Alert Level 2.

Smash Palace owner Darryl Monteith said once vaccine passports were in place, then “we will be sad to not see our unvaccinated friends”.

“Hopefully it's not forever. Controlling the door will be a challenge but at least we will be able to return to doing shows, albeit for a reduced number to start with.”

The Dome's Sally Shanks said she would also be using vaccine passports.

“We don't want to but we have to,” she said. “We move towards the traffic light system with growing trepidation. The way forward is divisive and we are all having to make difficult choices and deal with consequences.

“Our business is suffering from long Covid. It may still take us out.

“When the traffic light shines, we will be moving to vaccine passports as the other path is unsustainable.

“We are following the rules. This isn't a stand on vaxxed or unvaxxed, it is not personal, it is unideal, it is a survival decision and it will have ramifications.

“As each of us can only hope people respect our own personal decisions, we hope you can understand ours as a public-facing business. We are the meat in the sandwich and we are currently getting squashed in the lunchbox.”

At red level, restrictions will be in place, even if vaccination certificates are used.

Limits of up to 100 people will be imposed (based on one-metre physical distancing) on all hospitality businesses, gatherings such as at places of worship or marae, weddings and civil union ceremonies, funerals and tangihanga and public events, as well as gyms.

If a business, organisation or service chooses not to request proof of vaccine, further restrictions will apply. Hospitality in these cases will return to contactless only and gatherings will be limited to up to 10 people.

Indoor and outdoor public events, close contact businesses (for example, hairdressers) and gyms will be unable to operate if they are not requiring vaccine passes.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Belinda Mackay said based on the current vaccination rates, Tairawhiti would be going into “red” on the traffic light system.

“We strongly advise hospitality and close-contact businesses download the app for vaccinated customers, as this will give certainty that they can operate without further lockdown concerns.

“We recognise that under the red setting there will be no events over 100 people allowed and this will have an economic impact for the region, which is why we need to keep getting people vaccinated.

“The Chamber applauds all the mahi being done by local businesses to get their staff vaccinated, from taking them to vaccination clinics to arranging onsite delivery of vaccines. These businesses are taking the health of their workers seriously and should be congratulated.”