Dunedin pizzeria bars Aucklanders over Covid infection fears

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Sep 2020, 4:22PM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Dunedin pizzeria bars Aucklanders over Covid infection fears

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Sep 2020, 4:22PM

A Dunedin pizza restaurant has placed a temporary ban on all customers from Auckland over Covid fears.

A couple on a South Island road trip say they weren't allowed inside Biggie's Pizza for a drink once they revealed they came from Auckland, despite having left the northern region more than two weeks ago.

The disgruntled would-be diner and her partner were left shocked and angry by the blanket refusal, saying they had no links to any Covid cases and did not pose a health risk.

But the eatery, which is battling for survival, is making no apologies for their hardline stance banning Auckland patrons, saying they have the right to turn away customers to protect staff and the business.

During the current alert level 2 it was a matter of taking "extreme precautions" in case a person with links to Auckland where community transmission was still ongoing should bring Covid into their premises.

The 27-year-old woman, who had been in the South Island since the start of the month, said she was stunned when staff quizzed her about recent travel.

Questions included whether the couple had been to Auckland.

"We said yes. They asked us when was the last time we had been there and we told them September 1."

At that point they were refused entry.

The couple had been touring across the mainland for more than a fortnight, supporting local businesses after recent travel restrictions were relaxed.

They had not been unwell during their southern holiday.

The pair also had no connection to Covid cases.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said they couldn't believe they were being subject to this level of discrimination.

"We have been road tripping around the South Island, trying to support local businesses and they have all been very welcoming aside from this bar. We were so shocked and angry that we were treated this way and it's not good enough," she said.

But restaurant owner Tacey Millard today said the ban on Auckland customers was about protecting people in the midst of a pandemic.

"We are taking extreme precautions and have the right to turn people away from the business in these situations," replied Millard on Facebook to the disgruntled Aucklander.

"If you were in fact to have the virus, it could put us out of business entirely which is detrimental for a small business like ours."

"While we do understand your frustration, we have to look out for the best interest of our staff and customers during a global pandemic."

She told the Herald it wasn't an easy decision to make but necessary given the small size of the premises and the potential havoc an infective case could wreak.

A handful of travellers from Auckland had been affected by the ban but had understood the reason behind the decision.

Similarly, anyone who did not sign in was also not allowed into the restaurant.

Millard said the business, which was a small eatery, had taken a massive economic hit from lockdowns this year and could not risk any more closures should a Covid-positive customer visit.

"We have a very small restaurant and staff are in contact with everybody," she said. "Our staff and business are important to us."

The good news was restrictions on Auckland customers were likely to be lifted with the anticipated shift back to alert level 1 next week, she said.

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