Christchurch restaurant fined $20,000 over Covid-19 breaches

Source: 1News

Christchurch restaurant The Lotus-Heart has been fined $20,000 after failing to comply with Covid-19 requirements.

WorkSafe has issued the vegetarian restaurant, which has been operating since 1997, with three infringement notices.

The restaurant has failed to display signage in a prominent place signalling whether it requires the use of My Vaccine Pass or not, WorkSafe said.

It also wasn’t displaying a QR code in a prominent place and does not have systems or processes to check the My Vaccine Pass status of patrons.

The QR code and My Vaccine Pas posters each have a $4000 fee and the penalty for not having systems and processes to check a person’s My Vaccine Pass status is $12,000.

“WorkSafe has been looking into this since September, and these infringement notices are the result of an unwillingness of the business to engage with WorkSafe or change their practices,” WorkSafe’s Simon Humphries said.

“Despite the business refusing to communicate with us, our inspector has gathered enough information to determine the business isn’t meeting even the bare minimum of what it’s supposed to do.”

Humphries explained it takes a “sustained period of observed non-compliance” for WorkSafe to escalate to using infringement notices.

WorkSafe normally first talks to a business to check what it’s doing and if its practices are correct when a concern is raised about its compliance.

If there are any gaps in a business’s understanding of the rules, WorkSafe works with it to fix this. It is normally the end of the matter, Humphries said.

“As the business is continuing to operate as a dine-in restaurant, workers must be vaccinated. Vaccination status hasn’t been determined at this point but if the business is found to be non-compliant in this area a separate infringement notice could be issued.”

WorkSafe said The Lotus-Heart had 28 days to pay the infringement fees.

If they do not meet this deadline a reminder notice will be issued.

If a business continues not to pay the infringement fee it may be referred to the courts for further action.

The business may, within 28 days of the infringement notice, request a hearing.