An Auckland motel is demanding guests provide a medical certificate or prove that they have been in New Zealand longer than 14 days before they are allowed to check in.
A manager at the Royal Park Lodge in Greenlane, who gave his name only as James, said it introduced the policy about a week ago to keep guests and staff safe in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
This follows a Herald report yesterday that a Kiwi-Chinese woman from Tauranga was asked to cancel her accommodation reservation made through Booking.com.
"We think it is a responsible policy because we don't want to take any risks," said James.
"It is better for us to lose business than to risk people losing their lives."
He would not say how many people had been turned away, or how big an impact the coronavirus epidemic has had on business.
James said because of where the motel was located, a majority of its guests were locals from other parts of New Zealand.
"We have no problem with anyone who has been in New Zealand for some time already, but we will require medical certificates from visitors from other countries to state they are coronavirus-free," he said.
"The only exception will be if they can prove, by showing us their passports, that they have not been to any countries that have confirmed coronavirus cases."
There has so far been more than 60,000 cases of infections worldwide, which includes 447 outside of China with two deaths - in the Philippines and Japan.
The largest cluster, with 218 confirmed cases, is on board the Japanese cruise ship Diamond Princess.
So far 24 countries have declared cases, but there is yet to be a confirmed case here in New Zealand.
Arthur Lim, whose friend from Australia, Philip Kuek, was told his booking at the 21-room lodge would only be accepted in he provided a medical certificate, felt the requirement was "absurd".
"This is a motel that's meant for tourists, how many would be travelling with a medical certificate or have been in New Zealand for two weeks? It's just absurd," Lim said.
"My own suspicion is that the operators are using their own initiative to impose the rule."
Lim said his friend, who was due to fly from Melbourne to Auckland next week, has now shortened his stay in Auckland and rebooked accommodation elsewhere without any restriction.
The Human Rights Commission has been approached about whether this was in breach of the Human Rights Act.
Prof Manying Ip, an Asian issues expert from the University of Auckland, said fake news and false information circulating on Chinese social media was creating panic and fear among Chinese communities.
She said this has resulted in Chinese people being even more fearful than others at being in contact with other Chinese people.
A spokeswoman from the Human Rights Commission said there were legitimate and understandable public health concerns but it was important to follow the instructions and advice from the Ministry of Health and Public Health Officers.
"It is also important to be aware of obligations under the Human Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination in a number of circumstances and on a wide variety of grounds.
These include ethnicity, national origins and having a physical illness and/or organisms in the body capable of causing illness."
The spokeswoman said there were some exceptions to the general rules.
"For example, if there is an unreasonable risk of infecting others with an illness, and steps cannot be taken to reduce this risk, some of the usual rules may not apply. Whether an exemption applies in a particular case will depend on the circumstances."
She encouraged anyone who believed they had been discriminated again to make a complaint to the Commission.