One of Wellington's largest hospitality operators is throwing support behind the capital's vaccination efforts, offering cash incentives to staff as well as paid time off.
Jamie Williams is the chief executive of Kāpura which owns 35 venues across the Wellington region including Southern Cross, Hotel Bristol and Gorilla Burger. He's the mastermind behind the "Take Two for the Team" campaign which aims to boost vaccination rates in hospitality.
Williams told the Herald he's offering around 900 staff across all his venues a $25 voucher for each vaccination, as well as paid time off for them to go and get it.
Once a team reaches 90 per cent vaccination, they get a $500 reward to spend on a day out – something like mini-golf or paintball.
He says the best chance hospitality has for normality in the near future is vaccination.
"The best chance hospitality has for getting rid of restrictions is a high vaccination rate... we're still trying to figure out what it means for customers and how we can get them on board."
Williams is working alongside the Restaurant Association and the Capital and Coast District Health Board to roll the campaign out first in the capital, then hopefully across the country.
Marisa Bidois, chief executive of the Restaurant Association, says she is confident the campaign will have good uptake.
"We're pretty confident that hospo businesses and diners alike will respond to the message – take two for the team of 130,000, which is the number of people working across our industry in Aotearoa."
The DHB is helping Williams print T-shirts, posters and caps which advertise the goal of 90 per cent vaccination.
He says if the vaccination rate can hit 90 per cent, the conversation around mandates can relax.
"The higher the vax rate, the less we have to have the conversation around mandatory vaccination and things – we've seen overseas you can't take peoples' civil liberties for too long so we just need to get as many people vaccinated as possible."
As for the customer response, it's been so far, so good.
"The customers are all happy, haven't had any negative feedback – we thought there was a small risk the people who don't believe in vaccination might kick off but they haven't."
More than 90 per cent of Wellington central's eligible population has now had at least one Covid-19 vaccination.
Assuming all second dose bookings go ahead in the next six weeks, the city will hit the all-important 90 per cent fully vaccinated target by November 17.