Victorian businesses spruik ‘jab or no jab’ policies
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A growing number of Victorian businesses have begun promoting themselves as open to all customers whether they are vaccinated or not, while the government is yet to reveal how any vaccine passport system would operate when the state opens up.
An infectious disease expert who advises the Victorian government has sounded the alarm on groups forming on social media to encourage unvaccinated people to visit their businesses after one Victorian pub’s post went viral online.
Premier Daniel Andrews has warned that, when the state does open up, those who choose to remain unvaccinated could soon find themselves unable to participate in many activities.Credit:Getty
An online group with more than 150,000 followers, has posts from businesses ranging from cafes and clairvoyants to a legal firm, dentist and cupcake makers.
The Victorian government has not yet outlined its road map out of lockdown, but Premier Daniel Andrews has warned that, when the state does open up, those who choose to remain unvaccinated could soon find themselves unable to participate in many activities.
A government spokesperson said on Sunday: “When we reach the national vaccination targets our economy is going to look different and that includes more access and opportunities for people who are vaccinated.”
The NSW road map out of lockdown, unveiled on Thursday, allows freedoms for fully vaccinated residents, including visiting pubs, hairdressers and sport venues, once the state reaches 70 per cent double-dose vaccinations.
Ben Horowitz, who owns The Rubber Chicken comedy club in South Melbourne, posted in the Facebook group to say he was looking forward to re-opening again, with everyone – regardless of vaccination status – welcome at his business.
“Half our staff are vaccinated and the other half aren’t – my business partner is, and I’m not,” he told The Age.
“Point is, we’re a comedy venue, not a school. It’s not compulsory to come to our venue.”
Last week, a social media post from the Grand Hotel Healesville saying “jab or no jab everyone is welcome at the Grand Hotel Healesville” attracted thousands of messages from anti-vaxxers before the restaurant was forced to post a clarification.
In it, they wrote that while they were not “anti-vaxxers or non-COVID believers” they wouldn’t discriminate against those who were not vaccinated. “However if the law changes and it becomes mandatory to enter a business with a passport!, then we will have no choice and will abide by the law.”
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has reiterated that the airline will ban unvaccinated passengers from international flights.Credit:
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has reiterated that the airline will ban unvaccinated passengers from international flights when borders reopen.
Romain Ragonnet, infectious disease modeller at Monash University raised serious concerns over such online groups and said keeping people subject to strong restrictions for longer than required could see people turn to groups like these to make up their own rules.
“There is fatigue about lockdown and other restrictions,” he said.
“The worst scenario you want to avoid is people not complying any more and people making up their own rules, that’s when you end up with a very critical situation. These online groups are the perfect example of people who are just tired of restrictions.”
He said having vaccinated and unvaccinated people mixing inside premises would not only see the virus spread faster but also put the health of vaccinated people with underlying health conditions at serious risk.
Council of Small Business Organisations CEO Alexi Boyd said business owners were “desperate to get their doors open”, but still did not have enough clarity on their legal rights and obligations around checking vaccine passports and serving unvaccinated customers.
She called for the federal government to bring together Fair Work Commission and Safe Work regulators, as well as public health and privacy experts, to create a checklist that businesses could follow to ensure they won’t face legal ramifications in the future.
“Now with the reopening, it’s not business as usual thanks to Delta and we can’t just dust off our COVID safe plans from 2020,” she said.
“The vast majority of businesses want to do open within health guidelines and make sure they’re not putting a step wrong, not only for their staff but for the customers.
“But we need some help … some hard work needs to be done here by government.”
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