The accommodation sector “surprised” and “perplexed” by the exclusion from the mandate of the Covid-19 vaccine

Accommodation executives say they can’t understand why the government has excluded it from a Covid-19 vaccine mandate that applies to the hospitality industry but not to accommodation.

Last week, the government said vaccinations would be mandatory for staff at businesses where vaccination certificates were required for customers, including hotels, hairdressers and gyms.

Aotearoa Hospitality Council strategic director James Doolan said he did not understand why the vaccine mandate did not apply to workers and guests in the accommodation industry.

It appears the government made a “strange distinction” that accommodation was not part of hospitality, he said.

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“I’m really in the dark,” Doolan said.

“It’s kind of a kick in the teeth for the hosts to be told that they are not hospos.

Accor New Zealand, which operates the Novotel Wellington, said it was surprised accommodation had been excluded from the government's vaccine mandate.

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Accor New Zealand, which operates the Novotel Wellington, said it was surprised accommodation had been excluded from the government’s vaccine mandate.

A spokeswoman for Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the vaccination mandate was not an issue that fell within the tourism portfolio.

She said legislation regarding vaccine mandates was being drafted and the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministry, Health Ministry and other agencies were consulting Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions on what legislation should say regarding various workplaces.

Once introduced, it would go through a series of public submissions, she said.

Aotearoa Hospitality Council strategic director James Doolan said it was difficult to understand why the government was excluding hosting a vaccination mandate in the hotel business.

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Aotearoa Hospitality Council strategic director James Doolan said it was difficult to understand why the government was excluding hosting a vaccination mandate in the hotel business.

Doolan said no one in the industry could understand why the “artificial distinction” had been made that accommodation was not part of hospitality, especially since most accommodation providers also served as hospitality. food and drink.

“This concept of accommodation outside the hospitality industry is frankly weird.”

The government has not given an explanation for this distinction, he said.

“It’s hard to understand what the government is trying to achieve.

Doolan said the hotels are too interconnected behind the scenes to be treated as separate businesses.

Staff, especially housekeeping, moved between the front, rear and equipment spaces. Staff shared a staff entrance, changing rooms, toilets and other facilities at the back of the house, he said.

“Room service literally exists to tie accommodation to food and drink.”

Guests and staff moved between spaces designed for ease of movement, he said.

“From a purely sanitary point of view, cleaning the room and changing the bedding of an infected person seems at least as risky as serving him breakfast. “

The physical spaces of hotels were not designed to separate guests or staff, he said.

“On the contrary, the modern design of hotels sees restaurants and cafes spilling out into the lobby or bars located next to the swimming pools.”

Hotel Council Aotearoa wanted any accommodation business with catering facilities to be allowed to impose vaccine mandates on all of its operations, without the need for other risk assessments or paperwork, he said. declared.

Gillian Millar, senior vice president of operations at Accor New Zealand, said she supports a call for mandatory vaccination across the accommodation industry, and in particular in hotels.

“We were surprised to learn that the government’s hospitality mandate did not cover the hosting of these operators; just those who provide food and drink.

The accommodation industry needed clarity to secure the reopening phase, she said.

“We are looking for more direction from the government.

“Our mission is to welcome guests and make them stay what you think would require a mandate. “

As it stands, Accor had some catering employees who were covered by the mandate, and others, such as cleaners, who were not, although they sometimes share the same workspace. , she said.

As such, he had to conduct risk assessments for a range of different roles in different parts of the business.

“Yes, we will do risk assessments, but we believe the government’s mandate is necessary to help us all. “

Accor New Zealand was encouraging and supporting its entire workforce of around 2,500 people to get vaccinated, she said.

“The health, safety and well-being of our teams and our guests remain our top priority, and the sooner people are vaccinated, the sooner we can reopen. “

Accor New Zealand has supported measures such as the presentation of Covid-19 vaccination certificates for stays in hotels and other accommodation throughout New Zealand, she said.

“Currently our hotels which have restaurants and bars require teams and guests to be vaccinated, showing that the Covid-19 certificate brings peace of mind, now we would like to see government guidelines for the industry. hosting, ”said Millar.

Tourism Export Council chief executive Lynda Keene said it was

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Tourism Export Council chief executive Lynda Keene said it was “crazy” the government didn’t view accommodation as hospitality.

Tourism Export Council of New Zealand chief executive Lynda Keene said she supports mandatory vaccination for the accommodation sector and the tourism industry at large.

“For decades, the hospitality industry has always included the accommodation industry, so it’s hard to know why they were excluded,” Keene said.

“Especially for hotels and lodges where they provide several close contact services within the physical structure of their property.”

It appears government advisers do not fully understand the nuances of health and safety when a guest or visitor engages in a tourism business, she said.

“Health and safety instructions should be at the forefront of all decisions and excluding the accommodation and tourism industries seems shortsighted. “

Most companies were proactive, but more action was needed from the government, she said.

“We hope that the situation will be corrected and that the accommodation sector and the tourism industry will soon be included in the compulsory vaccination scheme. “

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