Topping up vehicles with petrol is an important aspect of their custom but so is refuelling people and letting them change their spark plugs and filters, according to Hawke's Bay service station entrepreneur Rod Earnshaw.

Earnshaw was responding soon after ascertaining his business cannot supply any cafe food at all from Wednesday.

"I just feel where are people going to go to toilets and depending on where they are travelling where are they going to get anything to eat at all," said the entrepreneur from his Clive petrol station. He operates five of them in the Bay and three in Wellington.

Earnshaw said considering supermarkets had queues and their bakery section had been closed down, the options for motorists had become even more limited.

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Rod Earnshaw says the no cafe food edict will leave many motorists famished and stranded. Photo / Paul Taylor
Rod Earnshaw says the no cafe food edict will leave many motorists famished and stranded. Photo / Paul Taylor

"One of the things I had put across to my staff was actually to do with people using the toilets," he said. "Historically what people have been using while travelling isn't available and the council has locked up the public ones, probably. So what's going to happen there?"

Consequently, he had emphasised to his staff the use of discretion.

"A mum could be on the forecourt wanting to use the bathroom so how could you deny them that access?

"You'll just have to be human in these cases, aren't you?"

He said it was uncharted territory for petrol stations but having grasped some aspects of the edict from the government it had become clear they could not serve food or sandwiches at all.

However, a circumspect Earnshaw said it was more palatable than having their doors closed altogether.

With payments diverted to "Prepay" he felt the drive-through problem had certainly abated.

"Those people who have apps can gas up and go but it'll be much slower on the forecourts all the time."

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Those drivers who didn't have the facilities would simply have to adapt to queuing outside.

BP Stortford Lodge Hastings has an after-hours Perspex facility to control numbers but not every petrol station has that for one-point cashier sale. Photo / Paul Taylor
BP Stortford Lodge Hastings has an after-hours Perspex facility to control numbers but not every petrol station has that for one-point cashier sale. Photo / Paul Taylor

His Clive station is a classic example where they are using automatic doors to control the flow of customers because they didn't have the after-hours, up-and-under Perspex checkouts.

"Not every site had the need for those facilities so they weren't obliged to [build them]," he said of the polycarbonate (acrylic glass) counters often used as a lightweight or shatter-resistant alternative to glass as protection for staff from late night travellers.

Putting up the bank teller-type of screen for a one-point cashier sale is on the agenda because protecting their staff was paramount at three stations that have automatic doors.

The screens were scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

It concerned Earnshaw that those motorists simply wanting a coffee would have some difficulty finding ample parking space.

"That's probably the thing that most people can't go without," he said.

His establishments were toying with early and late closing and opening times to take the adjustments in their stride.

It was also heartening, Earnshaw said, that they could keep employing their dedicated staff.

He gave a big thumbs up to the general demeanour of frustrated motorists.