Lowan hospitality businesses already stretched and hurting with the Andrews Labor Government’s brutal restrictions have been thrown into chaos with a last-minute announcement that staff will need to be double-vaccinated by Friday.
The government’s vaccine mandate for authorised workers states employees must have their first vaccination by October 15 – or be booked to receive it by October 22 – and be fully vaccinated by November 26. The Department of Justice and Community Safety advised industry bodies on Tuesday that this remained the case, however the Premier later announced that hospitality staff would not be permitted to work unless they were fully vaccinated by Friday.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the move had created mass confusion and turmoil, and she is calling on the government to urgently reinstate to original deadline.
“To give businesses only a couple of days’ notice that their vaccination requirements are being brought forward four weeks is absolute negligence from the government and a total lack of understanding of the widespread consequences this will create,” she said.
“Business can’t be expected to pivot with a moment’s notice. In such a heavily-regulated and restricted environment like we’re experiencing at the moment, there is so much work that needs to happen behind the scenes for businesses to be able to open their doors. Businesses have now been left clambering to fill rosters and to accommodate an upset of this magnitude.
“Some businesses will be forced to close because staff will not be able to be fully vaccinated in time, meaning more weeks of heartache with no income for businesses or staff. This is completely unacceptable and a massive kick in the guts to an industry that has already done it so tough over the past year and a half.”
Ms Kealy said the change was yet another illogical decision from the Premier, and was particularly hard to understand for regional areas like Lowan, where vaccination rates were already well above the government’s targets.
She said the change also implied that a single-vaccinated employee would be allowed to work in a hospital, but not in a café, bar, or restaurant.
“These double standards raise serious questions as to what, if any, health advice these decisions have been based on,” she said.
“To make matters even worse, the government’s own websites offer no clarification on this new rule, which is only adding to the confusion.”
Ms Kealy has issued a call to arms to anyone who has hospitality experience and is fully vaccinated to offer their support to local businesses.
“I encourage anyone with experience to consider lending a few hours of their time to their favourite local pub or café to help them through these really tough circumstances. That little bit of extra support might just be the thing that enables them to keep their doors open,” she said.
“While Labor is intent on making it as difficult as possible for our businesses to trade, I know our community will band together and do everything it can to support those doing it really tough.”