Coronavirus: Nelson café bans recent returnees from managed isolation

The latest COVID-19 community case is causing extra concern for many businesses around the country and one café is taking restrictions one step further.

Zumo, a café in Nelson, is forbidding those recently released from managed isolation from entering.

"If someone died due to a breach, I would take it personally," Zumo's owner Allen Chambers says.

"I would feel personally responsible, so in my view, we had to act."

Chambers says the decision was prompted by the latest community case who developed symptoms after leaving managed isolation.

"This just adds another layer of protection for our people and customers," Chambers says.

This is a move welcomed by staff.

"He has my full support," Zumo operations manager Natalie Surova adds.

But not by the Government.

"We wouldn't be releasing people from managed isolation if we thought that there was a risk that they were bringing COVID into the community," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

"That's what the process is designed to stop."

Except this time it didn't stop it. Chambers says he's obligated to keep his customers safe.

"Clearly there's an elevated risk in the managed isolation and they need to reduce that," he says.

The Human Rights Commission says in general, it's unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability - and that includes physical illness.

But there are exceptions, like an unreasonable risk of infecting others with an illness.

At the other end of the scale, Golden Bay's Mad Café says scanning its QR code is optional. 

But the Hospitality Association is urging businesses to play by the rules.  

"Overall as an industry, we need every dollar we can get and we need every customer we can get," Hospitality New Zealand president Jeremy Smith says.

"As I say there's contact tracing. Let's make sure we wash our hands and if we're feeling unwell don't come in and let's trust individuals to make decisions."

Chambers says he'd made his decision - and he's sticking to it.