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Etiquette expert Julie Lamberg-Burnet reveals the dos and don’ts around COVID vaccination etiquette

As millions prepare for Monday 11 October and ‘Freedom Day’ in NSW, many are wondering what the etiquette is around vaccination and if it’s ‘rude’ to ask someone if they’ve been double-vaxxed. 

Julie Lamberg-Burnet, from the Sydney School of Protocol, said while vaccination is a delicate subject, it is completely ‘fair’ to discuss it with someone.

The etiquette expert shared how to tackle the subject of COVID-19 vaccines – from how to check someone in the public domain has been double-vaxxed to how you should react if they’re not.

Julie Lamberg-Burnet (pictured), from the Sydney School of Protocol, shared her vaccination etiquette guide with FEMAIL, and how you can check if someone is double-vaxxed

She said while the conversation around vaccination is delicate and even potentially offensive, it is a completely 'fair' topic to discuss (stock image)

She said while the conversation around vaccination is delicate and even potentially offensive, it is a completely ‘fair’ topic to discuss (stock image)

‘As Australia swiftly emerges from virus-inspired restrictions, there has been significant media comment about those in the community who are not vaccinated,’ Julie told FEMAIL. 

‘There are now vaccination compliance rules and obligations for businesses. 

‘These rules join our existing Health and Safety protocols that we take for granted, such as wearing seat belts, no smoking restrictions and responsible serving of alcohol.’

She added: ‘Our social interactions and freedoms have been put to the test during the pandemic, and while this may continue for a short period of time, the new protocols will quickly become the norm.’

So how should you handle vaccination and checking someone’s status, and what are the top dos and don’ts?

The etiquette expert said you should never be embarrassed to ask whether someone in the service industry has been double-vaxxed (stock image)

The etiquette expert said you should never be embarrassed to ask whether someone in the service industry has been double-vaxxed (stock image)

The exact phone conversation to have with a business 

* STEP ONE: Begin the conversation with a friendly, warm greeting and some small talk.

* STEP TWO: Enquire about the availability of bookings, rather than launching straight into interrogations over vaccination. 

* STEP THREE: A polite way to ask is ‘May I ask about the vaccination status’ instead of ‘What, can you or tell me’ – all of which sound confronting.

* STEP FOUR: Listen and allow the business to explain.

* STEP FIVE: Feel free to cancel if you’re not satisfied with their explanation. You can say you ‘don’t feel comfortable and feel the need to cancel on this occasion’. Keep the conversation open-ended as businesses may change their protocol. 

DO: ASK WHO IS VACCINATED AND WHAT VACCINATION PROTOCOLS ARE IN PLACE

Firstly, the etiquette expert said you should never be embarrassed to ask whether someone in the service industry – for example a hair stylist or nail salon worker – is double-vaxxed.

‘Ask in a polite fashion,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘Be open and friendly, volunteer your own double vaccination status and continue to be polite to avoid alienating others.’

Julie recommends ideally phoning in advance to find out what the vaccination status of employees is.

‘It is not demanding to want to know what your risk factors are before committing to entering a service environment,’ Julie said. 

‘However, it is important to recognise that everyone has a choice.’

The best approach if you are calling to make a booking, Julie said, is to ‘politely enquire about COVID-safety protocols’.

‘Begin the conversation with a friendly, warm greeting and some small talk,’ she said.

‘Enquire about the availability of bookings, rather than launching straight into interrogating them over details about vaccination protocols.’

Julie said you might want to say ‘may I ask what the vaccination status is?’ rather than asking a direct question like ‘What, can you or tell me’ – all of which sound confronting.

‘Listen, allow the businesses to explain and then you are quite at liberty to cancel if you’re not satisfied,’ she said.

‘Just say you “do not feel comfortable and would prefer to cancel on this occasion”.

‘Keep the conversation open-ended as circumstances may change and over time some services and restaurants may adjust their COVID-19 status.’

She added that many restaurants and services are already pre-empting such discussions with clients by providing information on their websites and booking platforms.

Make sure you check this first before asking any awkward questions.  

DO NOT: LOSE YOUR COMPOSURE

If you find yourself somewhere and discover someone isn’t double-vaxxed, Julie said you should never lose your composure and completely freak out.

‘Be self-aware and avoid over-reacting,’ she said.

‘For example, if you discover someone is not double-vaxxed, maintain your composure while taking the necessary precautions, like mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing.

‘All of this, plus checking in with the QR codes, is for your safety and can give you a sense of comfort.’ 

If you are somewhere and suddenly find out someone isn't double-vaxxed, the etiquette expert said you do not need to feel obliged to continue with that service (stock image)

If you are somewhere and suddenly find out someone isn’t double-vaxxed, the etiquette expert said you do not need to feel obliged to continue with that service (stock image)

DO NOT: FEEL OBLIGED TO CONTINUE

However, if you are somewhere and suddenly find out someone isn’t double-vaxxed, the etiquette expert said you do not need to feel obliged to continue with that service.

‘If you are not comfortable with someone not being fully-vaxxed, then make a change,’ Julie said.

‘You are doing what is best for you and your colleagues and families, rather than finding yourself worrying about it every time you engage in their services.’ 

Julie recommends telling the service person you’re not comfortable with it, but remaining polite, in case they change their status down the line.

‘Remember etiquette is about putting yourself and others at ease,’ she said. 

‘It is not about being judgmental about people’s decisions on vaccination, but being guided by a mutual respect, kindness and consideration for others.’

DO: ALWAYS USE THE VACCINATION PASSPORTS/QR CODES  

The easiest way to put both yourself and venues at ease is to use the vaccination passports and QR codes system – as is the law.

‘Checking in and showing vaccination will automatically reassure others and help service staff,’ Julie said.

Even when it comes to people like kids’ babysitters, Julie said you should volunteer your own vaccination status and politely ask theirs.

‘With services like babysitting, you are more likely to be in closer proximity to the service operator and other clients within the space,’ Julie said.

‘You are then even more well within your rights to know whether someone is fully vaccinated, but you should also remember it’s good practice to volunteer your own status without someone having to ask.’

For more information about Julie Lamberg-Burnet, you can visit the Sydney School of Protocol here

The rules around NSW’s ‘Freedom Day’ 

* From October 11 and ‘Freedom Day’, only double-vaccinated people will be permitted to enter most venues and facilities in NSW. 

* This will apply until December 1 when the state reaches 90 per cent vaccine coverage and unvaccinated people are granted the same freedoms.

* Health Minister Brad Hazzard businesses are responsible for ensuring unvaccinated people do not enter their premises between October and December.

* He said: ‘They should be doing what they can to keep their workplace safe… but I would like to think that this is not about enforcement’.

Source: ABC 

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