Melbourne pubs will be freed from their sixth lockdown at 11:59pm on Thursday night, but the industry says changes to vaccination requirements means there will be little to celebrate.
At the beginning of October, the government indicated hospitality workers needed one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to work on-site and receive their second dose by November 26 in order to continue working.
However, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday that only fully-vaccinated workers would be permitted to work on-site in restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars from Friday.
Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association, David Canny (above), told 3AW he’s never seen the industry so angry.
“We told our members very clearly … that they had until the end of this week to get their first jab and then another month to get the second, and that was the advice we were given,” he told Neil Mitchell.
“Had we been told differently a month ago then we could have pushed to have double vaccination by this Friday, but the fact of the matter was we weren’t told that.”
Canny says hospitality workers have been “abandoned” by the state government.
“Never through this pandemic have our members been so angry at the way they’re being treated by this government,” he said.
Australian Hotels Association Victoria chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan said the government had “moved the goalposts”.
“Members who were ordering stock, rostering staff on the previous timing schedule for vaccination, only to then be told yesterday that is in jeopardy – they are furious,” he told AAP.
“Staff are distraught, having been basically on and off their workplace for the last 18 months or more. It is very, very upsetting.”
The AHA has requested a grace period to allow staff to get fully vaccinated, but Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar said “there is no wriggle room” on the vaccine mandate.
“It would be bizarre to be in a world where we have said, ‘you can only be a customer in these places if you are fully vaccinated’ but the staff do not need to be fully vaccinated. That doesn’t really stack up,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“We would expect the people that are now being asked to please come back into work are the first ones to have got themselves organised to get themselves fully vaccinated, so that they can serve their customers.
“It does not seem an unreasonable proposition to me.”