An Auckland concert hall has been called in by its owner to still require patrons to present vaccination passes.
Whammy Bar, on Karangahape Rd in Auckland, first heard of its owner Paul Reid’s views when he left a negative review on the bar’s Facebook page – and the owners say he shouldn’t be spreading any “dirty laundry” in public.
The vaccine passes no longer need to be provided in reception areas after the government made changes to the traffic light system, but some sites still use them.
Reid, posting from a personal account, wrote: “It was a cool punk rock dive bar… you know the anti-establishment punk vibe is pretty cool. lol [sic].”
Reid’s message was not the first the bar had received since he went public with his decision, with others calling it “apartheid”.
But Reid’s comments were quickly followed by a flood of responses supporting the bar and criticizing Reid for leaving his comments in a public journal.
“Wait a second… aren’t you their F***ING OWNER?” wrote an incredulous follower.
“You don’t have to agree with the entry policy, but jeezus fucking christ…what a fucking way to fuck them.”
Reid’s comments were shouted at by Whammy supporters. Photo / Provided
“Yes I am and I personally gave them $60,000 in rent relief to help them stay alive through Covid,” Reid replied.
“And then when they are allowed to open and resume operations, they mistakenly exclude members of their own community from their place.”
Others called Reid, who once performed with pop-punk band Rubicon and appeared on TV show Shortland Street, a “shame”.
“Yeah, I’m the shame that gave them a 10-year lease,” Reid shot back.
“And I’m the shame that canceled $60,000 in rent owed, that’s me.”
“I’m not anti-science, I’m anti-nothing,” Reid added.
“Just think it’s a bad business decision by Whammy, that’s all. And very anti-establishment.”
Reid’s comment caught the attention of Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick.
Whammy Bar co-owner Lucy Macrae said she woke up to see the social media storm this morning and Reid’s views were new to her.
Macrae confirmed Reid took a $60,000 rent reduction during the Covid shutdowns, based on a clause in the lease.
She said Reid could have shared his opinion better and said they would have been open to a discussion with him, but defended their decision to ask for vaccine passes.
She said the bar was taking the “temporary measure” to keep staff and customers safe as Covid numbers remained high.
“We know our own business and we know our customer base. We made this decision based on that in order to have someone, for all intents and purposes, from the outside coming in to challenge these business decisions as if we weren’t there. hadn’t thought is wild.”
She said her decision to discuss their financial arrangements was unprofessional and agreed with comments suggesting Reid should not air “dirty laundry”.
Regarding Reid’s claim that the decision undermined Whammy’s punk credentials, Macrae said it was a diverse venue, but the owners came from a punk rock background and s stuck to their values of protecting the community.
Paul Reid at the time of the Rubicon (L) and more recently (R). Photo / Provided
Reid told the Herald he stood by his comments, but made it clear that Whammy was free to run his own business as he saw fit.
“I just thought it was ironic that an old punk rock venue, which was so anti-establishment and anti-government, clings so religiously to this type of government mode of social exclusion,” he said. told the Herald.
“I thought punk was more about diversity and inclusivity and respecting each other.”
In reference to the heavy criticism he faced, Reid admitted that “no one likes the owner, I get it, it’s not very punk”.
“But when you single-handedly helped navigate many of the businesses in central Auckland, which I have, that would otherwise go bankrupt because they weren’t getting enough government support, it’s sad to see some of the tenants taking such polarizing decisions.”
He conceded that Whammy knew his own community but thought the decision was “ironic”.
“They promote an ethic of inclusion and acceptance, but that doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to someone deciding not to stick a needle in their arm.”
He said anyone who disagreed with his opinion should, instead of attacking him personally, go to Whammy and enjoy one of their great live shows.
– by Chris Marriner, NZ Herald