Omicron outbreak, RAT tests: Cafe at Westermans in Hastings shuts for a day to protect staff and patrons

A well-known central Hastings cafe lost its lunch and afternoon trade following the decision to close its doors for the day, as hordes of people lined up out front to get their hands on rapid antigen tests (RATs) from the pharmacy next door.

Cafe at Westerman’s, on Russell St South, shut up shop right before its peak afternoon trade on Friday, and owner Paul Langford said it was to protect its customers and staff.

The cafe is next door to the Unichem Pharmacy which was a collection point for RATs for those eligible and those who had a RAT number and had filled an online form.

Hawke’s Bay Today understands the queues of people getting RATs were snaking out the door of the pharmacy, right to the corner.

“We had a lot of people in the queue, some were sitting outside, some were trying to get inside the cafe, and we were unsure about why they were there,” Langford said.

“Our staff were getting a bit anxious, we were worried about the people being symptomatic or positive. We wanted to protect our customers and staff. So we decided to close up for the day.”

He said he “felt sorry” for the pharmacy, and the cafe’s decision was “no one’s fault”.

“They are quite overwhelmed, I feel sorry for them.

“There were just a lot of people moving around.”

He said the customers themselves were “quite understanding” of the situation, and the cafe would be open again on March 5.

“Hopefully we can set up some traffic management in place, maybe get some help from the council. I will talk to the pharmacy and I am hoping to resolve it by tonight.”

Customer on the day, Kerry Bloor, said it was “a shame” for the cafe to have to close, but she understood the reasons.

“There were people right across the frontage of the cafe, lines right down Russell St, all the way to the corner,” Bloor said.

She was at the cafe around 11.30am on Friday with her business partner and said the cafe put a sign out the front saying they were closing due to health and safety reasons.

“There were about 20 people inside, and they had to close with a cabinet full of food.

“There were people who read the sign and turned around and walked away. It’s such a shame for them.

“Patrons had to walk through the crowd to get inside, and the cafe must have felt it wasn’t safe for its customers.

“I feel really sorry for them.”

Bloor is a regular at the cafe and goes there at least twice a week, and said lunchtimes were busy periods for the cafe.

“There’s a good crowd normally.”

She, like Langford, hoped the situation would be resolved soon.

Unichem Pharmacy was approached by Hawke’s Bay Today but couldn’t comment on the number of RATs supplied but did say “we had lines out the door”.

Rapid antigen testing is now being used extensively as part of the Covid-19 testing strategy.

People who have Covid symptoms, or are asymptomatic and a household contact can order and then collect RATs from a Community Collection site.

Alternatively, a testing site will determine which test (RAT or PCR) is best for you. More information can be found on Healthpoint.

Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay had 325 new cases of Covid on Friday, with three people in hospital.

Nationally, the Ministry of Health announced 22,527 new community cases, with 562 in hospital and 11 in ICU.

Source: Read Full Article