Over $150K in fines dished out to businesses breaking Covid rules

Source: 1News

Some businesses are repeatedly and openly refusing to comply with Covid-19 rules, with fines piling up for repeat offenders.

WorkSafe has dished out $164,000 in fines to six businesses across the country since the Covid-19 Protection Framework came into place in early December, most in the last few weeks. They include a tattoo business in Tauranga, a barber in Rotorua and an upmarket Masterton restaurant.

Lotus-Heart restaurant in Christchurch was fined on Christmas Eve and again on January 25 totally $44,000. It faces seven fines in total which relate to not checking vaccine passes, not displaying signs that say whether they're checking vaccine passes and the incorrect display of QR codes.

1News was told "no comment" by the business on Thursday, but the message on their answering machine says, "we are an inclusive restaurant and welcome all". Last week there was a sign on the door of the business stating 'Members Only'.

The framework puts restrictions in place for businesses that choose to use vaccine passes, requiring customers and staff to be vaccinated. Businesses that don't use vaccine passes face further restrictions, such as takeaway only for hospitality and gyms not opening, depending on the alert level.

Auckland gym Oliver MMA Limited has been fined three times totalling $36,000. Twice the fine related to allowing someone to work while unvaccinated and not checking vaccine passes. On Thursday the gym posted to Instagram a sign at reception which states: 'Vaccinated and unvaccinated welcome here'.

Damned Fine Foods Limited, which operates Lone Star New Lynn, was finned $24,000 for not checking vaccine passes and employing unvaccinated staff. WorkSafe notes the actions of this restaurant don’t reflect the attitude of the wider Lone Star company.

On Wednesday Damned Fine Foods owners Stephanie Cowie and Brendon Pascoe uploaded a YouTube video saying they strongly oppose the vaccine mandates. Neither are vaccinated and half their staff aren’t either.

Hammerhead Tattoos Limited, based in Tauranga, is facing $24,000 in fines for not checking vaccine passes, not making clear whether they're using vaccine passes, not having a QR code prominent and not having an alternative contact tracing system.

Masterton restaurant Saint Sebastian and Rotorua based My Barber have both been fined $16,000 for issues relating to checking vaccine passes.

All businesses in this story which are facing enforcement action by WorkSafe have been approached for comment.

It comes after 1News visited Collingwood’s MAD Café last week which refuses to check vaccine passes and has only unvaccinated staff. The owner is an artist that goes only by NgAnga who says it’s now operating as a members only club, called the Love Boat Club.

He says as it’s a club it doesn’t have to comply with the rules. 1News understands a WorkSafe inspector visited earlier this week and an infringement notice has been sent.

Read more: Golden Bay cafe becomes 'private club' to avoid vax passes