The Victorian government’s “vaccinated economy” process was welcomed, but industry worried about a backlash
Double-dose Victorians will soon find a way out of restrictions when a vaccination business trial starts in six regional areas in October.
Up to 20 vaccinated economics studies will test systems and support in the fortnight before Victoria is expected to hit the all-important 70 percent vaccination mark on October 26, creating greater freedom for vaccinated people.
The studies are scheduled to begin on October 11th. The studies are expected to cover hospitality, hairdressing, beauty services, and tourism businesses, as well as events such as race meetings, community celebrations, and concerts – allowing for higher customer numbers, with all participants confirmed as fully vaccinated.
The Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, Pyrenees, Warrnambool, Buloke, and East Gippsland regional areas will be the first to be invited to participate in the trials.
The government says it will work with local councils and industry bodies to identify suitable companies and events.
When asked, Matthew Monk, owner of the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery in Warrnambool, will shake hands.
He welcomed the move and said it would bring them one step closer to “COVID normal”.
“There is nothing to fear and a chance to leave all of this behind,” said Monk.
“We’re a half-full place and anything that can help us get back to where we used to be is a good thing.”
However, he was concerned that employees would have to enforce the passports.
“It’s a big change from what you did as a hotelier to suddenly have to be something of a security guard,” said Monk.
“It’s not like medical staff who have been on the front lines, but it’s something they’ve never had to do.”
But Mr Monk said he was sure the staff would handle it – and hoped customers would accept the need for controls as the state continued on its way out of the pandemic.
“We’ll have to live with that for a while,” he said
He said the training and assistance the Andrews government had promised was welcome, but wondered how useful it would be in practice.
“It’s one thing to be trained, it’s another to use it,” said Monk.
He is not alone with his worries.
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“Unfair” to expect employees to enforce the plan
Victorian Chamber of Commerce executive director Paul Guerra said they were pleased to hear the announcement.
However, he said it was “unfair” to expect companies to be responsible for enforcement.
“We know there will be a backlash on social media. We know there may be protests too, ”said Guerra.
“And that can all be fixed if the state government issues a public health ordinance that says, ‘To get into this business, you need to be double-vaccinated.’
Mr Guerra said he hoped the QR check-in system would eventually be linked to show people’s vaccination status.
“When we get that, it’ll be easier for companies to see, ‘Yes, they have been QR codes and, secondly, they have been double-vaccinated so they are allowed to enter,'” he said.
“It removes all the fears a business owner has to deal with.”
Experts urge consumers to be patient as companies learn to operate under the new regulations.
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He said the technology was already in the works and could be ready by mid to late October.
Mr Guerra said measures needed to be taken to allow businesses to open up, including increasing the density quotient.
“We need to get companies back on the market,” he said.
“Every day lost right now is a day we won’t come back. So let’s hurry and get to those 70 percent doubles (vaccinations) and 80 percent doubles (vaccinations) to give the business a fighting chance get back on their feet. “
Opposition says the “bare” plan lacks details
Victoria’s shadow secretary for coordinating COVID-19 recovery, Tim Smith, said the government’s “vaccinated economy” process was lacking in detail.
He said it was a “bare announcement” with no details or collusion with local MPs.
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“We have no information on how this process will work,” said Smith.
“What is the plan? There is no plan.
Mr Smith said companies need to know what criteria to include in the study.
“Who bears the costs of enforcement? These are very important matters, ”he said.
“People are struggling with months of lost income, a real psychological crisis. And that only increases fear when we don’t have details on how it will work.”
Save Victorian Events founder Simon Thewlis said they were waiting to learn about the “mechanics” of the process.
“There are a lot of unknowns at the moment,” he said.
“At the moment we cannot legally ask anyone whether they are vaccinated or not. So there are some legal changes that need to be made.
“So we still have a lot to learn about how this will work.”
He said the news would do a lot to let people know “what the score is”.
Good start but wait for Greater Melbourne Trial
Felicia Mariani, executive director of the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, said the process means the state is planning to reopen and that is what the industry really needs.
“This is a good start,” she said.
“… We are very keen to see, at some point, when it is certain, that Greater Melbourne will be included in some of these exams.”
Ms. Mariani said that since the roadmap to implement the national plan was published, many in her industry have been concerned about the impact, especially on her frontline workers.
“These exams mean they will have a chance to test and learn what is so important and be able to get a good handle on what is required of them when it reopens under these new commitments must be. ”She said.
“With the study’s announcements, the industry has a glimmer of hope that we’re on our way to making this announcement again.”
Train employees and educate consumers
Ms. Mariani said frontline staff training and consumer training were essential to the plan’s success.
“The industry is so concerned about the reaction of its customers,” she said.
“We urge consumers to be patient, tolerant and kind because these companies are being asked to operate in a completely different environment than they have ever done before.
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“They are reopening after a very long period of closure and it will be a real challenge for them to meet these new commitments.”
She said the frontline delivery obligations would fall on the companies.
“It is the frontline companies and their frontline workers who review these vaccinations and certifications and may even deny entry to some people,” Ms. Mariani said.
“It’s going to be really hard to do … because we’re not used to it.”
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