The New South Wales Police Commissioner refuses to enforce the state's vaccine passport mandate and says that officers will not be checking people's vaccination status in public areas such as restaurants, clubs or bars.
The Australian government is preparing to pass a mandate that bans all unvaccinated people from entry to public venues
up until December 1st, as a repeat of the segregation scheme that has been adopted by countries such as the United States.
However, questions began to swirl about whether or not businesses would be forced to impose the measures on customers, and NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller made it clear that he and his officers will not be on patrol to enforce the vaccine passport mandate.
However, he did say that they will be assisting restaurant and shop owners if they are refusing entry to someone.
NSW hit a full vaccination rate of 60.4 percent, edging closer to its 70 percent target that could trigger an easing of restrictions by October 11. Attention has quickly turned on how the orders will be enforced, or if it will fall on individual businesses to do so.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard asserted that it is part of the police's job to enforce the said measures, but it looks like it will be a bit difficult to implement such actions because, unlike some countries, businesses in Australia will not face fines if they allow entrance to unvaccinated individuals, rendering the whole scheme pointless.
Asked why businesses would bother to argue with unvaccinated people if they don't have to face penalties, Hazzard criticized the media for focusing on minor details. (Related: Australia considering COVID-19 vaccine passports and the segregation of society based on vaccination status
Industry groups want more guidance regarding enforcement of mandates
Industry groups, however, have been "screaming out" for guidance regarding the enforcement of the vaccine mandate, as the state government is yet to reveal its public health orders.
The hospitality sector is now waiting to see what public health orders will be made in the coming weeks, but it is understood that the sector believes it will not be on the individual businesses to enforce the rules.
Hazzard said that regardless of the government's position, individual businesses would still continue to bar unvaccinated residents
. For instance, Qantas airlines already announced that it will not let unvaccinated people board international flights.
"What needs to be remembered is that there are many, many businesses who will actually make it very clear that as of 1 December, if you haven’t been vaccinated, you won’t be welcome and I think the airlines have made that very clear. There are a lot of other businesses saying the same thing and I think people need to understand that a balancing act had to be struck," he said.
The Chief Executive of peak body restaurants and catering Australia, Wes Lambert, welcomed that fines were not part of the order
, but he said that businesses should be given details. He said that the hospitality industry is now concerned about the responsibility that they may have to handle, despite the Premier saying that the onus regarding the vaccination status will be on the individual.
He also said that it is important that the NSW government does not leave the hospitality industry out to dry, especially if the authorities do not intend to enforce rules.
Labor leader Chris Minns shared that businesses are still in the dark regarding the protections that they will have under the law, adding that their major concern involves putting businesses on the line with no legal protection.
Australian Hotels Association NSW director John Green also said that business owners need help in clarifying the order ahead of reopening their businesses; however, they did say that the industry was well-versed in these regulations.
He also said that there will be more people seeking entry in different venues. Some will employ security while others will divert staff to the door, which will add another financial burden, particularly when venues are trading at only 25 percent capacity indoors.
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