NSW mulls venue ban for those who refuse COVID vaccine

18 January, 2021 by Andy Young

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refused to rule out allowing venues in the state to refuse entry to patrons who have not had the COVID-19 vaccine, once it starts rolling out later this year.

Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB this morning, the Premier was asked if the State Government will allow venues to refuse entry to someone who has not had the vaccine.

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She replied: “I think it’s important for the community to start thinking about the vaccine and how they feel about it. For my part I will be rushing to the queue as soon as I am told I am allowed to have it.

“I want people to start thinking about that, because the more people that are vaccinated the greater likelihood that we can have a return to normality as we know it.

“There is no doubt there will be conversations in the next few weeks. But already airlines have indicated that if you are not vaccinated you can’t travel overseas.

“We will also consider if we will allow venues [to refuse entry], and venues do that already. People make up their own rules if they run a business or have a workplace, about what they consider to be COVID-safe and people should think about that.

“We also need to remember, while it is the Federal Government’s responsibility in terms of the vaccine and the rollout, all workplaces and State Government’s will no doubt have a say in encouraging people to take [the vaccine].”

The Premier added: “We should also remember that we have some of the strictest regulations on the planet, when it comes to approving a vaccine. So while other countries probably have a shorter time to say something is OK, we take a longer time because we want to make sure it’s OK.

“So please know nothing will be approved unless it was safe. I just want people to start thinking about the vaccine, how they would feel about it, if they were offered it and I would encourage everybody to take up that offer.”

The Premier said that entry to venues and other public spaces could form part of an incentive scheme to encourage more people to get the vaccine.

She told 2GB: “I don’t ever like to force people to do anything. There should be incentives for people to do certain things, whether it’s for their own safety and the safety of others and they’re conservations that will be had.

“But again, we’d like there to be an incentive system where people are encouraged to have it because it means they can do all these things that they may otherwise not have been able to do.”

And while the Government expressed its disappointment last week that only 71 per cent of venues inspected by the State Government were using the Service NSW QR Code app, the Premier this morning was grateful to the state’s hospitality venues and workers for the work they have done over the summer.

The Premier said: “Can I just give a shout out to all the businesses who have done an amazing job in making sure their venues are COVID-safe. It’s meant all of us can enjoy a normal summer.

“We have been limited in some ways, but also we are able to enjoy the hospitality of all those fantastic businesses because people have been COVID-safe.

“The use of the QR codes is proving to be a blessing because it means if there is a case we can identify who was at a particular venue at a particular time. These are all measures that really protect our citizens.”

The implications of what this means for venue operators is something Craig Laundy of Laundy Hotels raised with Channel 9’s Today show this morning.

“We will need to know how do we check that people are vaccinated. If there is a penalty attached to not being vaccinated then being found in a venue, is that the responsibility of the venue or the individual?” Laundy said.

“How do we police it, is another big thing. Another factor is, can I force my staff to be vaccinated in the modern industrial relations framework?”

The Shout has contacted the other states and territories to see if they are also considering this approach for venues and vaccinations and will report those responses.