Alleged cases of abuse directed to Ashburton business owners and staff due to Covid-19 restrictions have angered the district’s mayor.
Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown has denounced the behaviour of those who have resorted to hostility when interacting with staff who are enforcing Covid and vaccination requirements.
The traffic light system came into effect on Friday, replacing the alert level system with vaccine passports, a key component within the new settings.
Mr Man’s Bakery and Cafe was forced to call police on the first day of the Government’s traffic light system after staff asked to see a customer’s vaccine passport.
* Hospitality sector adjusting to vaccine passports as scammers try their luck
* Plea for Southlanders to be kind as Covid-19 traffic light system kicks off
* Geraldine Pharmacy report says staff left shaken by interaction with man over mask rules
Police confirmed on Friday they were making inquiries after an offender, who left on foot, was alleged to have caused wilful damage at the bakery.
Mr Man’s owner Savonn Man, who was not present in the store at the time, was informed by his staff about the incident.
“They started yelling and smashing the table,” he said. “I’m disappointed with these people because this is what the Government has said. But it’s all fine now.”
Man said people needed to understand what was expected of them.
“I don’t like people who try to break the rules.”
Another bakery in Lincoln also reported a number of instances of people getting upset when they learned that only vaccinated people would be served on Friday.
There has also been an unconfirmed report of abuse being directed to an owner at an Ashburton hairdressing salon in the past fortnight around vaccination status.
Brown said abusing business owners around the issue was “completely wrong”.
“It’s not their right,” he said. “They’ve chosen not to be vaccinated and the Government have brought the regulations in that those businesses are adhering to.”
Ashburton butchery Netherby Meats, which was not enforcing vaccine passports as it would require employing an additional person, issued a reminder last week on its social media page after a customer allegedly refused to wear a mask and upset a staff member.
“Please respect the rules, it’s there for all our staff and customers benefit and be nice there is no need to be abusive about it.”
Owner/operator Mike Hanson said although there had been some pushback around mask wearing, most people had been understanding.
“They’re pretty good,” he said. “We’re a small shop and can only fit five people at a time but [customers] are fine with it and waiting outside.”
Wider feedback from hospitality operators in Mid-Canterbury during the first weekend of the traffic light system indicated the majority of customers were mostly complaisant, with the “odd exception”.
Cleavers Corner Gastro Pub co-owner Nikita Moore said most people had responded “pretty well overall” to vaccination passports.
“It’s always going to be a niggly thing,” she said.
“It was something that we as business owners never wanted to do and people seem to think you’ve got the choice, but when you’re running a business it’s obviously something you have to take into consideration.”
In Methven, the Dubliner pub said it had very few issues and people were well-prepared.
“Most people were absolutely lovely about it, we had the odd one who was disgruntled, or a bit impatient about it (the rules),” co-owner Karen Manning said.
She said it did add to the workload of senior staff members who were managing the passport verification process.
“It’s like a separate role where we have somebody come and meet them at the door, so it taking a little bit away from my job where I’m at the door dealing with that, as opposed to being on the job inside.”