Cape Town bars and pubs mulling vaccine passport in a bid to protect patrons, staff
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Cape Town - Bars and pubs are pondering the need for vaccine passports to protect customers and as an extra incentive to save their businesses, ravaged by numerous lockdowns.
Tjing Tjing House restaurant and bar owner Ilze Koekemoer said getting vaccinated would leave both individuals and society better off and would therefore support a national campaign, whether voluntary or enforced through regulation.
Koekemoer said it would assist businesses if people knew patrons and staff were vaccinated.
“We have been testing our staff regularly, also for antibodies, and currently, more than 95% of our staff have antibodies, either through contracting the virus before or as a result of vaccination. We have made medical advice available to all our staff,” said Koekemoer.
Located at the upper end of Long Street, the Waiting Room’s head barman Tinashe Munoda said: “We are not yet looking at vaccination passports, but I know this is just around the corner with the way the general population is accepting the vaccines and also now that the 18- year-old cohort can also register and be vaccinated. So it's something on our agenda as to how well we can implement that when the need calls.”
“The business is taking an active approach in encouraging its patrons to get vaccinated with strategic signage placed throughout and through implementing Covid-19 preventative measures.
“The establishment is naturally seeing fewer patrons and is forced to close on certain days of the week, as it was not economically viable to operate on these days.
“There should be massive awareness campaigns to convince the anti-vaxxers before we start barring them from attending social functions. Like I said before, most businesses in the industry have regular customers. You don't want to suddenly prevent them from entering the premises without allowing them time to change their approach to the situation in question,” said Munoda.
The Beerhouse recently launched its pro-vaccination campaign offering 50% discount off first drinks for patrons who are fully vaccinated and a 10%- 20% discount for those who have registered or received their first dose. Proof of this must be presented.
Beerhouse founder Randolf Jorberg said they were in support of the vaccine roll-out, but no one would be barred should they refuse to get vaccinated.
“If there are young staff members of mine who have no practical risk, I do not believe in limiting their freedoms by forcing them to get the vaccine. I will leave it to their choice. I am personally vaccinated, and I am very happy about it,” said Jorberg.
Much like the choice is with patrons to choose which drink to order, so is their choice to take the vaccine or not, he said.
“We obviously welcome and promote the vaccine but we will not force our patrons to do so. Because, as we now know, the risk of infection and spread is not reduced by that, so what we’re going to do is keep to the protocols, (and) promote the vaccine. We will not make it a prerequisite for entry unless it's the government order. I don't think it will help patrons to feel safer because we know that the vaccine does not stop the spread,” said Jorberg.
On a good day, the Beerhouse trades at 20%-30% of its pre-lockdown turnover.
“We sometimes reach 50% of pre-lockdown turnover, but generally, our economy, our business has been massively impacted, mostly due to government restrictions. Because only being able to sell to 8pm while we are a late-night venue that usually sees our peak at 10/11pm has obviously significantly impacted our business.”
The beer bar and restaurant went from employing more than 100 people across three of its establishments to now employing 15 full-time employees.
Cassia, Nitida and Tables restaurants at the Durbanville Wine Valley farm owner Warren Swaffield said around 90% of the staff of 45 had received the first jab.
Swaffield said educating staff around the importance of it was essential, not threatening their livelihoods.
“I have made vaccinations compulsory for my staff on the grounds that it is not only essential for their health but as it is their responsibility to be a part of a society that needs to be vaccinated in order that we can as a country and economy move forward and get off this treadmill we are on.”
Once they have all been vaccinated, he said he plans to make it compulsory for patrons, too, moving forward.
“Unfortunately, vaccinations are the only way we are going to get over this hump for the very near future,” said Swaffield.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape reported 22 514 active Covid-19 infections, 505 247 confirmed cases with 463 844 recoveries, as of 1pm on Wednesday.
This is according to the Western Cape government Covid-19 dashboard.
To date, 18 825 people have succumbed to the virus. The province administered 2 281 290 Covid-19 vaccines.
The Provincial Health Department said it had administered over 200 000 vaccines last week, with 216 961 vaccinations administered from August 30 - September 3, across its 200 vaccination sites.