Coronavirus: Grant Robertson says businesses that lose customers because they refuse to use vaccine passes shouldn't qualify for financial help

The Deputy Prime Minister doesn't think businesses that opt out of using vaccine passes should qualify for any potential financial assistance on offer in the future. 

As the country reopens under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework next week, financial relief for businesses hit hard by lockdowns will also end, since there won't - fingers crossed - be any lockdowns. 

Packages like the wage subsidy and resurgence support payment "won't be part of going forward from here", Grant Robertson told Newshub Nation in an interview aired on Saturday morning.

"In terms of any future support, there is still an issue that we're working through."

The wage subsidy and resurgence support payments have been available to firms who suffer significant revenue losses thanks to level 3 and 4 restrictions. Under the Protection Framework - also known as the 'traffic light' system - all businesses will be allowed to operate, though some won't if they don't use the My Vaccine Pass at the orange and red levels. 

Robertson said if the likes of gyms, hairdressers and hospitality venues don't use the My Vaccine Pass and lose customers or have to close, he doesn't think they should be propped up by the taxpayer.

"I've made clear that personally, I don't think if, for example, we're using the revenue drop test for any support that we give, that we should reward people who don't use vaccine certificates and that causes the revenue drop. So that's the view that I've taken."

He's unsure at this stage whether "it can even be done" however.

"We're working that through with officials, but obviously a lot of that depends on the nature of any future support - we have made clear that any future support is likely to be targeted and likely to be sector-specific…

"We've been clear that at all three levels of the new protection framework, businesses can operate. And so our focus now is on making sure that we set that framework in such a way that businesses are able to operate."

The Government this week said it wouldn't be mandatory for businesses to check the validity of customers' My Vaccine Passes. They have to sight them, but there's no requirement for them to use the verification app to check they're not fraudulent

"It's no different from what most countries around the world are doing," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier this week. "Our verifier app is actually an added tool that not everyone internationally has used."

The Ministry of Health's website originally said it was a requirement, but was updated during the week after Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield noted there was nothing in the Government's vaccination order that made it compulsory

"The practicalities of checking every single vaccine pass for businesses is challenging, but our expectations are that they do check them again and because there are certain areas and sectors where we have required them to have them," Robertson told Newshub Nation.

He also said it would be fine for businesses to employ single-jabbed people even whilst only letting in double-vaccinated people, at least in the short-term, before the January 17 deadline.

"People are employed. We want them to be able to work. And if they have agreed to get vaccinated, that's the process we want them to be in."

As for whether businesses would be forced to let in police officers who aren't double-jabbed, Robertson said that would be a "very, very specific set of circumstances" that would be moot by January 17, when only vaccinated officers would be on the front line. 

"That will be entirely up to the Commissioner of Police there. The Government doesn't manage the way that he deploys his resources. I think we've got around 88 percent of police staff that are vaccinated. And so the Police Commissioner will work his way through that. But obviously, it's our expectation that they will be mandated frontline officers to be vaccinated."

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