Australians who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 are ‘likely’ to be banned from many workplaces and venues like pubs and cafes, experts warn.
No broad vaccine mandates exist in Australia yet with only 19 per cent fully vaccinated, but are already in place for some high-risk workers.
Aged care staff and anyone in the quarantine system were ordered to get the jab by September after multiple outbreaks began with unvaccinated workers.
Australians who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 are ‘likely’ to be banned from their workplaces and public life following moves in the United States
Despite there being no broad vaccine mandate for the general public in Australia, experts say specific high-risk workplaces may require vaccination in the future
This is likely to be expanded to other high-risk industries and eventually many other companies as a condition of employment, experts told the ABC.
Google and Facebook already require staff to get vaccinated to work in their US offices, and will likely make the same demand in Australia before long.
President Joe Biden on Friday announced US federal employees in law enforcement to the postal service will be required to sign a declaration they were vaccinated.
The administration declared those who were not inoculated would have to wear a mask and would be subject to regular testing and strict social-distancing rules.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce recommended a similar mandate in Australia, by calling for compulsory jabs for all airline employees for the safety of passengers and staff.
‘We believe Covid vaccination should be a requirement for all aviation workers,’ he told Radio National Breakfast on Friday.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also argued businesses should have the power to reject unvaccinated patrons.
Mr Joyce told Sky News vaccines would provide business owners more freedom when it came to protecting themselves against Covid-19.
‘People in private enterprise are going to say look I’ve got rights here too,’ he said.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (pictured) has also argued that businesses should have the power to reject unvaccinated patrons
The deputy prime minister said vaccines gave businesses more powers when it came to protecting themselves, staff and customers against Covid-19
‘If you want to come into my barbershop, or my childcare facility… then I have a right to say, maybe, “have you been inoculated?”
‘And if you say you haven’t, I have got a right as the owner of the shop to say I can’t have you sitting in a seat next to someone who has.’
The Fair Work Ombudsman said most employers not in high-risk industries would not at present be able to demand vaccination – but this could change with government regulations.
‘In the current circumstances, the overwhelming majority of employers should assume that they can’t require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus,’ it said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison changed his stance on mandatory jabs on June 28 when it was made compulsory for aged care workers to get vaccinated.
The National Cabinet is also considering the same policy for disability care workers.
‘Imposing on a person the requirement to have a vaccine or not be able to work in a particular sector is something that no government would do lightly,’ Mr Morrison said at the time.
‘As a result, we have been considering this matter for some time now based on the best possible medical advice.’
Before then, the prime minister said a requirement for people in high-risk workplaces to get jabbed was unlikely, with the focus instead on encouraging the majority of the population to roll up their sleeves.
Maria O’Sullivan, an expert in public and human rights law, told the ABC staff would not have much luck challenging their employer’s demands.
Appearing on the Today show on Monday, 2GB Radio breakfast host Ben Fordham said conversations about ‘vaccine passports’ were starting in NSW.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce (pictured) has called for compulsory jabs for all airline employees for the safety of passengers and staff
It is currently compulsory for aged-care workers to get vaccinated, with the National Cabinet considering the same mandate for disability care workers
The radio host said the document would be required to attend major sporting events from 2022, adding the decision would ‘upset a lot of people’.
‘But at the moment we need some blunt instruments and some extreme measures because this thing moves at an extreme pace,’ he said.
When asked why the federal government hadn’t already mandated the vaccine to fight recent outbreaks, Fordham said not everyone had access to a jab.
‘We can’t do it now because not everyone has had the opportunity of being vaccinated, you would hope 2022 would be a bit of a turning point,’ he said.
‘The prime minister has already said life will look a lot different at Christmas time, and once enough of us are vaccinated we can kiss goodbye the lockdowns.
‘2022 sounds like a reasonable time to do it.’
Mr Fordham said in a conversation with Venues NSW chairman Tony Shepherd he was told the same requirement would likely apply to children.
Meanwhile NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said incentivising vaccines to allow workers to leave eight local councils in Sydney’s west and south-west wouldn’t work until everybody had access to a jab.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the incentivising of vaccines would be a policy she would consider further down the track when everybody had been granted access to a jab
NSW has recorded another 207 cases of Covid-19 on Monday as it emerged the state was on track to reach 70 per cent of vaccination in just five weeks
Ms Berejiklian said she would consider those policies further down the track when the vaccine was available to everybody.
‘If you’re vaccinated and you’re walking around the community, you can still give it to other people who aren’t vaccinated and that’s not fair on them,’ she said on WSFM radio.
‘Until we give a chance to everybody to get vaccinated, we have to stay safe and stay in this lockdown situation.’
NSW recorded another 207 cases of coronavirus on Monday, with 50 of the locally acquired infections out in the community while infectious.
The announcement comes after it emerged Sydney’s lockdown could be lifted as soon as September – with the state on track to reach 70 per cent vaccination in just five weeks.