Those who refuse to be immunised against COVID-19 could be banned from pubs, restaurants or their workplaces under a radical plan proposed by Gladys Berejiklian.
The New South Wales Premier has revealed she is considering implementing regulations that would prohibited residents who have not vaccinated from entering certain venues.
She said the measures would be aimed at ‘incentivising’ uptake of the vaccine, which is vital to rebooting the economy, and businesses may require patrons to prove they had received the jab.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) is considering implementing regulations that would prohibited residents who have not vaccinated from entering certain venues under a radical plan to ‘incentivise’ immunisation uptake
‘Clearly, opportunities to travel overseas or opportunities to enter certain workplaces or venues might be enhanced if you have the vaccine,’ Ms Berejiklian told the Daily Telegraph.
‘Some of those decisions could be inspired by government, [and] some of those decisions might be inspired by the organisation themselves.’
The government has supply agreements in place for the, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Novavax vaccines and will start rolling out the Pfizer jab next month.
While vaccine rollout and policies are the domain of the federal government, Ms Berejiklian said she will be encouraging residents across the state to be immunised.
The government will meet in coming weeks for further discussions on how to roll out the vaccine.
Under the plan, ‘high risk’ hospitality businesses and government run-settings, such as departmental buildings, police and fire stations, or Service NSW shopfronts, may require proof of vaccination upon entry.
Ms Berejiklian has previously said a green tick feature could easily be added to the Service NSW App to indicate someone has been vaccinated.
It is believed some non-government organisations, including hospitality operators, will have a say in setting their own entry requirements.
Under the plan, businesses would be urged to require patrons to prove they were vaccinated before entry
‘Workplaces might say: “if you’re coming into work, this is our preference, or this is what you [need to] do”,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian is not the only politician to suggest mandatory immunisation regulations.
Scott Morrison earlier this month flagged the possibility that it may be a legal requirement for certain types of people to get the jab but he refused to say whether such a directive would apply to health workers and aged care residents.
However, a spokesperson for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the ‘vaccination in Australia is and will remain voluntary’.
In November, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said travellers would need to be inoculated before they could fly with the Australian carrier once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.
It comes as Australia is investigating reports Norwegian authorities are concerned about the safety of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after a number of elderly and frail people died after being inoculated.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency has reported 29 people had suffered side effects from having the vaccine, 13 of them fatal.
Mr Hunt is seeking additional information through the Therapeutic Goods Administration from the company and the Norwegian medical regulator.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has also tasked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to seek advice directly from the Norwegian government.
Under the plan, ‘high risk’ hospitality businesses and government run-settings, such as departmental buildings, police and fire stations, or Service NSW shopfronts, may require proof of vaccination upon entry
‘So as further information is available, we’ll share that with the Australian public,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘There is no change in our timeframes at this point, but the medical regulator is completely empowered to make independent decisions.’
The Pfizer vaccine forms only part of Australia’s response to COVID-19, as there will be a greater use of the AstraZeneca, and home produced, vaccine once it has been approved by the TGA.
Vaccinations are due to start next month.
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said concerns over Pfizer is why Australia has not put all its eggs in one basket when it comes to a vaccine, with the AstraZeneca, Novavax and other options available.
‘We’ve got enough doses to, of course, roll out right across the nation, free of charge, and to also provide a vaccine, from February, for the Pacific Islands as well,’ he told the Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise program.
‘So throughout the year, we’re going to ensure that the vaccine is swift, yes, but safe. Absolutely paramount it will be safe.’
There was some good news on the likely take-up of the vaccine from market researcher Roy Morgan.
A survey of more than 1,200 respondents found over three-quarters of Australians say they would be willing to be vaccinated when the vaccine becomes publicly available.
At the same time, just under three-quarters say mask wearing should be compulsory.
NSW recorded six locally acquired cases in an existing cluster in western Sydney in its latest update, five of which were household contacts of an infected man reported the day before.
However, Ms Berejiklian urged people to come forward for testing amid concerns there were only 12,700 tests on Saturday.
‘What is really important is to make sure that given we are towards the tail end of this particular outbreak, there haven’t been other super-seeding events, we want to keep it that way,’ she told reporters.