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26 November, 2021

DECEMBER 17 mandate is a concern for local business owners

As December looms on the horizon, the restlessness of business owners and day-to-day Queenslanders grows with the impending mandate, which, as the government confirmed, will come into action on December 17 independent of the double vaccination figures.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Cairns Esplanade - PHOTO: Berta Perez-Bermudez Candela

On Saturday, November 20, thousands of people got together in the ‘Worldwide Rally for Freedom’ to protest the new mandate coming into place this December. 

Although many attendants were protesting the right to choose vaccination, the question lies in how business owners will control entry based on vaccination status and how this mandate will put their businesses and staff at risk. 

So, what does happen on December 17? As a preparation for reopening borders across the country, the Queensland Federal Government announced the full easing of restrictions accompanied by a new mandate for unvaccinated people.

From December 17, 2021, there will be no capacity restrictions for venues; however, unvaccinated people will not be able to access a whole range of these spaces: 

  •  Hospitals, residential aged care, disability care accommodation, and prisons with exceptions for medical treatment, end-of-life visits, childbirth, and emergencies.
  •  Hospitality venues like hotels, pubs, clubs, taverns, bars, restaurants, or cafes.
  •  Indoor venues such as nightclubs, live music venues, karaoke bars, concerts, theatres, or cinemas
  •  Sporting stadiums or theme parks • Festivals – either indoor or outdoor – such as musical festivals, folk festivals, or art festivals.
  •  Queensland Government-owned galleries, museums, or libraries. 

With this mandate, the State Government intends to prevent deaths and the health system’s collapse with the inevitable wave of COVID-19 cases that the reopening of borders will bring. 

Although this idea makes sense in theory, the execution does not seem logical in many aspects. For example, while unvaccinated people cannot access a bar or a café, they can still sit next to vaccinated people in the bus or share a meal with them in the food court of a mall or bump into each other at the supermarket. 

The community is worried, and so are the local business owners who would have to police this whole ordeal without any special authority. They must request vaccination status or medical exemption. People who are not vaccinated or aren’t carrying proof are likely to get upset and react negatively towards the only ‘middleman’ staff. 

On November 24, Cairns Mayor Bob Manning invited local business owners to attend the Cairns Regional Council Ordinary Meeting to discuss the concerns relating to the mandate coming into place in the following weeks. 

In the meeting, Cr Manning introduced a Mayoral Minute. He finally moved that:

  1. Queenslanders should do their best to protect each other and get vaccinated. 
  2. Inevitably we will have to follow any health direction made by the Queensland Government under advice from the Chief Health Officer. 
  3. The Regional Council will address the State Government to implore that, if implementing the “Public Health and Social Measures Linked to Vaccination Status”, they take all steps necessary to remove and mitigate the risks for businesses when it comes to compliance. 

These are times of uncertainty, but the best Queenslanders can do for the moment is to keep doing as much as they can to be safe and protected, vaccinate, help stop the spread to help our local businesses. In contrast, we keep asking the government to alleviate risks for local businesses.

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