The region’s leading business advocacy organisation, Business Hunter, has today called for rapid clarity from the new NSW government leadership to equip businesses with the tools they will need for a successful and stress-free re-opening once the state hits seventy percent double-dose vaccination.
With only one week to go until 11 October which is ear-marked as #BacktoBusiness Day, Business Hunter CEO, Bob Hawes, said the week ahead was critical for business to prepare themselves for clients and patrons’ return. He said there were still troubling gaps in public readiness resources that, if resolved, will help businesses dealing with the public again.
“We know that the government isn’t going to legislate protections for business in managing the new public health orders regarding vaccination and entry to premises,” Mr Hawes said.
“Without legislation, at the very least we want to see a concerted campaign by NSW Health and the new leadership in government to educate the public on their individual role and responsibilities in the economic re-opening from 70% double-dose.
Mr Hawes said that the government was still working with NSW Health to fine-tune the roadmap and called on any changes to be communicated quickly and clearly.
“One example is the update to the roadmap around staff vaccination, and I welcome the government’s concession to allow staff in regional areas to return to work having had one dose of the vaccine and providing proof of a second dose upcoming,” Mr Hawes said.
“This shows that government is listening to our concerns for businesses in regional areas who have had limited access to vaccination. We’ve been heard and this adjustment to the orders will help people re-enter the workforce sooner – particularly younger age groups who have only recently been able to receive their vaccines.
“What’s not clear is how that concession might translate to clients and patrons. The public health orders need to close loopholes through clear guidelines – particularly if changes are being considered by the new government leadership.
“This is new territory for business. Businesses need support from NSW Health to communicate all requirements so that everyone is working from the same page and there is no confusion or misinterpretation of the Public Health Orders or the guidelines,” Mr Hawes said.
“Businesses need simple, evidence-based resources for visitors to refer to at points of entry so that the terms of entry are clear. That means new collateral now to show what the mask-wearing, COVID check-in and vaccination expectations are, so that businesses are not wasting time having conversations with clients on issues outside of business owners’ control.
“I’d even encourage some messaging from the government to circulate through the media, outlining what’s in and out while the state heads toward December 1, and crucially, we need the government to keep moving ahead this week and ensure the Service NSW app is updated to support check-in and vaccination status by 11 October, so that the right tools are in place.”
What Business Hunter does know:
The roadmap is subject to further fine-tuning and health advice if circumstances change drastically or cases remain too high.
o Employers can direct staff to get vaccinated but only if required under the PHO or “lawful and reasonable” to do so
o Employers can request vaccination status from staff.
o COVID-Safe check-ins and proof of vaccination required for staff and customers in most settings.
o Staff in regional local government areas (excluding Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Central Coast) only need to prove one vaccine dose and a booking for a second dose.
o Density limits of 1 person per 4sqm for indoor areas and person per 2sqm for outdoor areas apply to some activities listed above.
o COVID-19 Safety Plans apply.
o Businesses can take reasonable steps to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons under certain conditions and respect anti-discrimination laws, data, privacy – although this area is complex.
o Staff must self-isolate for 14 days (vaccinated or unvaccinated) if they test positive for COVID-19
o Businesses must inform NSW Health if 3 or more employees test positive in a 7-day period.
o Businesses not included under the Public Health Orders may choose to refuse entry to unvaccinated people subject to taking certain steps in relation to certain laws and ensuring they explain and inform people as to why they are taking this step.