The Cross Keys Hotel at Cavan, SA, has made a controversial move by banning all interstate truckies from its premises.
It comes after the hotel was listed as a tier-one Covid-19 exposure site and had to close at 8am on Saturday, after a Covid-positive truckie visited the site on Monday August 30.
Around 30 people were required to isolate for 14 days as a result, including staff and their families, along with customers.
Though the pub reopened to most on Monday following an intensive deep clean and official sign-off by SA Health, not all are welcome, namely interstate truck drivers.
Big Rigs spoke with hotel owner Greg Maitland about the matter and he stressed that the move definitely wasn’t a swipe at truckies.
“Its’ pretty simple for us, our pub is about 500 metres from the biggest distribution centre in the state. The trucks that drive into there from interstate hotspots in Victoria and NSW aren’t allowed to leave their trucks, they can’t get out of their trucks or anything. They go there, reverse in and drive off. And that’s been ascertained where hundreds of people work. But at my pub, they’ve been able to continue coming in,” he said.
Since the ban came into effect on Wednesday, it’s received widespread backlash, with SA Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer saying it’s discriminatory to all truck drivers.
SARTA has today released a statement via its Facebook page. “It was clear that the manager had not thought through the details of the ban, as he indicated they are worried about HV drivers who live in NSW/VIC and not so much drivers who are SA residents,” it said.
“We pointed out that their ban does not make that distinction and that under the Cross Border travel Directions there is a distinction for quarantine purposes, between Category 2 drivers (who ARE residents of Restricted zones/states) and Category 1 drivers who are SA residents and who do not have the same strict quarantine requirements as Category 2 drivers. He undertook to review their ban accordingly but as yet it does not seem to have changed.
“Whilst the Hotel Management’s response is understandable at one level, treating ALL HV drivers, or ALL interstate HV drivers, like leppers due to the error of ONE is none-the-less an ineffective, inappropriate knee-jerk reaction that will be virtually impossible to manage.”
SARTA has proposed that the hotel use more appropriate and effective measures, such as implementing effective QR Code tracing, requiring HV drivers to show the same level of evidence re testing/vaccination as they are required to show on entry/re-entry to SA under the Cross Border Travel Directions.
Many have vented their frustration at the decision online, with some vowing to boycott the establishment.
“They have no understanding of how the system works when it comes to drivers…hope everyone avoids them with that type of reaction to what happened,” wrote Katrina Davies Hutchesson on Facebook.
While Michael Cooter Smith commented, “I urge all drivers and friends and family to boycott this dive. Even when they back track. Let’s send a message. Let’s get deliveries slowed up etc.”
Others defended the pub’s stance.
On Facebook, Ronald Buwalda commented, “So what is the difference between this pub refusing to serve interstate drivers and businesses enforcing their employees to get vaccinated. No different to the government saying that they will open up to people who are fully vaccinated.”
Michelle Waters wrote, “Why slam them, they are looking out for their community, they should be commended for it.”
Marisa Maiolo on the other hand saw the irony in the decision, “Great idea, all staff and customers will be safe now as they won’t be able to operate without supplies!”
Maitland insisted it’s nothing personal towards truckies. “It will have a significant impact on the business if we have to close down again,” he said.
“We love truck drivers – why would I want to diminish their business unless I thought there was a significant risk? We had to make decisions in the best interest of our staff.
“We were basically told at 11.20pm last Friday night that our staff had to go into lockdown due to a truck driver who had lied to SA Health. He didn’t use the QR code but instead wrote a number down manually and then denied he was here. We’re obviously not saying every truck driver does that, but the risk is just too high.
“We’ve had some terrible comments online. Maybe we haven’t articulated right, but the general public seem to understand what we are doing. We simply can’t afford to have another shutdown.”
Looking ahead, Maitland is hoping to meet with SARTA to discuss the way forward. “A possible solution is to have one part of the pub reserved for truckies or to take food out to them at their trucks,” he added.