Golden Bay cafe hiring only unvaccinated workers, makes vaccinated customers sit outside

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A cafe owner refusing to hire vaccinated workers to staff his Golden Bay business could be a danger to the small community, an expert says.

The owner of the Mad Theartre cafe and art centre is an Australian who goes by the name of Nganga​.

Nganga​ sought applicants for front of house roles at his cafe in a local paper with an advertisement that read, “only non-jab applicants need apply”.

“Most places say ‘get a jab, get a job’. I am the opposite, if you get a jab then you have no job,” Nganga​ said.

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The owner of the Mad Theartre cafe and arts centre in the Golden Bay town of Collingwood is only hiring workers who have not been vaccinated.
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The owner of the Mad Theartre cafe and arts centre in the Golden Bay town of Collingwood is only hiring workers who have not been vaccinated.

Nganga​ said he based his decision on “health reasons” and that he did not want to hire staff that may turn into “zombies”.

Helen Petousis-Harris​, a vaccinologist at the University of Auckland, said the vaccine did not have anything in it that can turn people into zombies.

She said a pocket of people entrenched against vaccination could be a danger for a small community such as Golden Bay.

“There are examples all over the world where you have small communities that are unvaccinated and of course the infectious disease will find them, and then it festers and thrives in that community to build up quite a lot of cases,” Petousis-Harris​ said.

Nganga’s view of vaccinations does not only extend to his staff but also his customers.

If a vaccinated customer came in, they would not be allowed inside the cafe, and would have to sit at an outside table, Nganga​ said.

He defended his hiring policy as being “selective, not discriminative”.

He said that he had already hired two new workers who he claimed left their previous jobs after they were asked to vaccinate.

Vaccinologist associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris says helping people identify misinformation themselves can go a long way towards stopping vaccine myths.
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Vaccinologist associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris says helping people identify misinformation themselves can go a long way towards stopping vaccine myths.

Petousis-Harris​ said that when a particular group was entrenched in its beliefs, the community should move to mitigate the damage those people could cause.

“Often these people are actively spreading information to derail public health, they can have quite an effect beyond the individuals that believe these things.”

The first step was to acknowledge that for the people who believed the myths, the vaccine could be a scary prospect, she said.

“But then also say, we do understand what is in the vaccine, and it certainly does not have anything in it that could cause you to become a zombie,” Petousis-Harris​ said.

The vaccine has been proven to work against Covid-19, and against the Delta strain.

Based on evidence from clinical trials in people 16 years and older, Pfizer’s vaccine was 95 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic laboratory-confirmed infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes Covid-19).

The trials revealed this was a 95 per cent reduction in risk compared to the baseline risk of an unvaccinated person.

However, observational data suggests the vaccines are not as good at preventing infections of the Delta variant. But the Pfizer vaccine has been found to still prevent severe disease in more than nine out of 10 vaccinated people.

Golden Bay locals are voicing their frustrations at Nganga​.

Renee Swan​, owner of Tilly’s Tavern​, a business near the cafe said the community was not surprised by Nganga’s​ behaviour.

“We are kind of at a point now with Nganga​ where he kind of does his own thing and sticks to his little bubble and we don’t really pay attention,” Swan​ said.

Most Collingwood residents were laughing at Nganga​, she said.

Tasman District Council councillor Celia Butler says it is impossible to live in Golden Bay and not hear about a man who calls himself Nganga.
Braden Fastier/Stuff
Tasman District Council councillor Celia Butler says it is impossible to live in Golden Bay and not hear about a man who calls himself Nganga.

“I don’t mind the man, but he won’t help the community by doing these things.”

Tasman District Council councillor for Golden Bay, Celia Butler​ said she had been aware of Nganga​ for some time because his cafe had a sign on his window which told vaccinated customers to stay away.

“He has actually contributed to Golden Bay quite a bit, he is quite a wonderful artist but his approach to Covid-19 is unfortunately also in line with his eccentricities,” Butler​ said.

Nganga​ represents an anti-vax section of the community the rest of Golden Bay has so far tolerated, but that could soon change, Butler said.

“I think the pressure will rise. It has been OK up until now to take that kind of stand, but who knows what kind of pressure will come on in the future. It is a whole other step to not employ anyone who is vaccinated,” Butler​ said.

Other Golden Bay residents voiced their frustration with Nganga​ on the community Facebook page.

One commenter, Marie Whitaker​ jokingly suggested the cafe needed to hire more staff as current staff were getting sick.

Another said: “What happened to freedom of choice? This is as bad as it gets.”

Employment lawyer, Megan Vandt​, said despite being a strange way to hire staff, the job listing was not illegal.

Vandt​ said a business could choose the way it wanted to hire staff, as long as it was not discriminatory.

Megan Vandt, senior associate at employment law firm, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, says businesses can decide how they hire staff as long as their decisions do not breach the Human Rights Act.
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Megan Vandt, senior associate at employment law firm, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, says businesses can decide how they hire staff as long as their decisions do not breach the Human Rights Act.

Hiring based on whether someone had been vaccinated did not meet the legal requirements for discrimination, Vandt​ said.

“It is up to the business to decide for whatever reasons they have, who comes onto the premises, and who they employ so long as they are not breaching the Human Rights Act.”

But it went both ways and a worker could not be fired for being vaccinated, Vandt​ said.

However, observational data suggests the vaccines are not as good at preventing infections of the Delta variant. But the Pfizer vaccine has been found to still prevent severe disease in more than nine out of 10 vaccinated people.

– This story has been clarified to also state that while the Pfizer vaccine is not as effective against the Delta variant, it still prevents severe disease in more than nine out of 10 vaccinated people. Amended: 11.08am October 6, 2021.