Victoria’s tough Covid vaccine mandate could see tens of thousands of residents unable to work.
Among those in the firing line are police and teachers – as well as judges, MPs, professional athletes and truck drivers – who will need to have their first jab by October 15 and then be fully vaccinated by November 26.
If the jab rate only reaches 95 per cent across the state, over 1000 police will be off the beat and 2500 teachers forced out of classrooms.
As it stands, just over 80 per cent of Victorians have already received their first dose and 50 per cent their second vaccine dose.
An unrepentant Dan Andrews said the mandate was essential to limit the spreading of the Delta strain of the virus so Victoria can re-open on October 26 – with the government hoping case numbers will drop.
Up to 2500 teachers could be out of work across Victoria next month if they are not fully vaccinated
Over 1000 police could also be off the beat if they don’t have both Covid jabs by November 26
‘It is critically important that we do not see these cases continue to climb and go up and up and up so that our hospital system is under immense pressure even before we open up,’ he said.
‘(We) just won’t do that to our nurses, to our doctors, to all of our teams of those dedicated health professionals.’
‘Even after we get to 80 per cent (double-dosed) and the authorisations are no longer there, the mandate, the rule, the chief health officer direction will stay in place because cases will still be an issue then.’
On Saturday, Victoria recorded 1488 cases and two deaths.
A number of professional sporting organisations are ‘highly recommending’ their players be vaccinated – but at this stage are not forcing athletes to have Covid jabs.
However, their hand was effectively forced by Andrews’ announcement on Friday.
AFL heroes, including Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury and Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield, have gone out of their way to promote the importance of being fully vaccinated to footy fans.
In business sectors, the reaction the mandated jabs has been mixed.
Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the employer association Ai Group, is backing the premier’s directive, but Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang labelled the move draconian.
‘What we do not advocate for is a law enforcement approach to vaccination that has the potential to criminally punish a business owners and sole traders if they or their staff have elected to not be vaccinated,’ he told the Herald Sun.
On Friday, national cabinet agreed on newly implemented national rules that will see vaccinations compulsory for anyone working across all health care settings in any state or territory.
Other workers who will also be forced to get jabbed to stay in a job include cleaners, farmers, retail workers, personal trainers, spa workers and priests.
The Western Bulldogs relayed to their fans the entire playing squad had their first vaccination jab – if athletes are not fully vaccinated by late November, they won’t be able to train and play following the introduction of the mandate on Friday
Unprecedented mandatory vaccine rules have been brought in for hundreds of thousands of the state’s essential workers including farmers, personal trainers and cleaners to stem the spread of its Delta outbreak. Pictured is a Covid-19 vaccine being administered on August 25 in Melbourne
Construction workers take their lunch break on a busy street to protest against the closing of worksite tea rooms on September 17. Dozens more essential professions will join tradesmen in needing a Covid-19 vaccine to keep their job
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the mass vaccination order on Friday and dismissed suggestions that the mandate infringed on people’s freedom to make their own decision on their healthcare.
‘I’m not taking lectures on freedom from people who will hold all of us back,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘There’s too much at stake. We’re not making this decision for fun; we’re not making it lightly or flippantly.
‘This is what has to be done to get us open.’
Mr Andrews said it was hoped the new order would accelerate vaccine numbers and push Victoria past the 80 per cent double-vaccinated threshold which will usher in the restoration of many pre-lockdown freedoms.
Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak continues to surge (pictured, healthcare workers at a vaccination centre in Melbourne)
‘This is about making sure that we go that extra mile to protect the road to opening [on October 26] or even a few days earlier,’ he said.
‘It will also make sure we can open, be free, and not have a health system overwhelmed with patients whose cases are completely avoidable.’
Thursday’s 51 per cent spike in cases in a single day was blamed on illegal gatherings on AFL grand final day last weekend, and had triggered some forecasts that case numbers could eventually reach 6,000 a day.
Melbourne GP Mukesh Haikerwal told the Today Show on Friday ‘they (cases) will probably double and double again.’
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said it would be ‘devastating’ if the plans to reopen the state were delayed.
The announcement comes amid warnings Victoria’s overcrowded hospitals are turning into ‘apocalyptic war zones’ as the Delta outbreak threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system (pictured, ambulances queued outside a Melbourne hospital)
‘They really want to know that if we do the right thing and hit the restrictions, if we get vaccinated, that we can still open,’ she said.
The warning came amid warnings Victoria’s overcrowded hospitals are turning into ‘apocalyptic war zones’ as the Delta outbreak threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system.
An anonymous official said the state’s health watchdog Safer Care Victoria had urged the state government to brace for a Covid-related surge in its hospitals when lockdown measures are relaxed.
‘They basically told us to prepare psychologically because most of Victoria’s going to think ‘this is great’… as a healthcare worker, it’ll feel like a war zone,’ the official told The Age.
‘I just can’t fathom it. Some of the hospitals in Melbourne are already apocalyptic.
Over 80 per cent of Victorians have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while more than 48 per cent are fully vaccinated
People are seen exercising along the Tan walking track in Melbourne on Sunday, September 19. Victoria recorded 950 new locally-acquired Covid-19 cases on Wednesday
‘We knew that this was going to happen when we did eventually open up. Why wasn’t the system better prepared? We’ve had time.’
Deakin University epidemiology chair Professor Catherine Bennett on Wednesday predicted the outbreak was still a month away from peaking before infections start to drop in late October.
However Professor Peter Collignon told the Herald Sun that predictions of 3,000 cases per day in the coming weeks is a ‘a bit too pessimistic’.
The Australian Medical Association’s Victorian President Dr Roderick McRae on Thursday morning said the state’s hospitals were now in crisis mode
He said the forecast didn’t take into account that Australia was heading into warmer weather – when respiratory illnesses abate – and that vaccination rates were steadily climbing.
Victorian acting chief health officer Ben Cowie said on Wednesday the state’s outbreak was likely still some time away from reaching its peak.
‘We know from both modelling and experience in NSW our case numbers will continue to climb,’ he said.
‘But it is absolutely with in our power to slow the spread and to prevent thousands of cases and hundreds of people from becoming seriously ill and some people losing their lives.’
THE VICTORIAN WORKERS COVERED BY THE NEW COVID VACCINE MANDATE
From October 15, anyone leaving home to work in the following professions and industries in Victoria will need to have received at least their first Covid-19 vaccine dose:
Interpreters and cultural workers
Funeral or mortuary services
Retail goods workers supporting click and collect
Members of parliament and their electorate staff
Commonwealth agency services, including the Australian Border Force
Film, television and documentary workers already in production
Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing
For the full list visit https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/authorised-provider-and-authorised-worker-list