Australian workers tasked with acting as vaccine passport police everywhere from cafes to golf clubs face an anxious wait for ‘Freedom Day’.
While vaccinated residents of New South Wales and Victoria look forward to returning to dine-in meals and sit down coffees, front-of-house staffers are quietly dreading the check-in process.
Even with check-in apps linked to QR Code scanners, young staffers face abuse and threats of violence from unvaccinated patrons upon refusal of entry.
Anti-vax protesters march at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday. Hospitality staff fear confrontation with them when vaccine passports are introduced
Cafes will begin to open up across Victoria and New South Wales with the introduction of vaccine passports
Ant-vax protesters gathered in Melbourne on Saturday. Workers forced to deal with them do not wish to act as police
Victorian Covid cases continue to soar in the weeks before it is expected to begin opening up out of hard lockdown once again
In the United States, where similar passports have been introduced in various states, hospitality staff have been brutally assaulted by hostile customers.
Just last month a trio of Texas women beat up a hostess at a New York restaurant after she asked for their Covid-19 vaccination cards.
Non-compliant businesses there face huge fines for Covid violations, placing enormous pressure of staff to comply.
Reports of other violent attacks against US hospitality staff continue to emerge as young workers leave the industry in droves.
The problem has made national news, with the New York Times reporting a young woman had experienced so much harassment from customers that she recently quit her job as a cafe host in Houston.
‘I have been screamed at. I have had fingers in my face. I have been called names. I have had something thrown at me,’ she said.
She was not alone, with several hosts from around the country telling the publication the job had grown significantly harder and more dangerous during the pandemic.
In Australia, signs of trouble have already emerged without a single vaccine passport being checked.
As Sydney restaurants prepare to reopen, a number of high-profile venues have been attacked for announcing they would open to vaccinated guests only.
Sydney’s Aria was one of the first to confirm its vaccine policy, which saw the restaurant’s Instagram account flooded with angry comments.
Some accused it of playing a part in ‘segregating society’.
Famed New York diner Carmine’s became a battle zone when three women attacked a hostess who asked to see their vaccine passport
The wild attack outside the New York diner provided a worrying insight into what Australian hospitality workers face
While many hospitality workers are keen to return to work, there is fear of what comes with it when vaccination passports are introduced
Cafes in Melbourne’s west have become Covid hotspots in recent times. While they look forward to re-opening to customers, many workers fear confrontation over vaccine passports
Sources across Melbourne’s hospitality industry have told Daily Mail Australia business owners are furious they are being forced to act as ‘rent-a-cops’.
One restaurant worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said staff would simply not ask drinkers for proof they had been vaccinated.
‘We’d need a bouncer at the front door every minute we are open. Is the government going to pay for that?’ he said.
‘I won’t be asking anyone. We’ll get our heads kicked in.’
Accommodation Association Leanne Harwood shared similar concerns when she spoke to the AFR last week.
‘What happens when a six-foot burly guy refuses to show the young bartender or barista on duty their vaccination certificate?’ she said.
‘There is a high level of angst about this. The hotel is concerned about how people who might have driven hours are going to react to being told they cannot enter. They are not bouncers.’
It is understood hospitality industry bodies have been inundated with calls from worried owners and staffers over the passports in recent weeks.
The issue is not confined to simply hotels, with workers at sporting clubs also tasked with policing the vaccine passports.
‘It’s a big concern,’ one golf professional told Daily Mail Australia this week.
‘I don’t want to be the one to tell a bloke or bunch of blokes they can’t play.’
A Sydney pub prepares to re-open after four months of lockdown
Vaccine Passport’s have been introduced in parts of the United States. Some staff have reported being abused and violently attacked
Australian hospitality workers are no strangers to enforcing Covid-safety rules, but many fear that asking for vaccination proof will be a recipe for disaster
NSW Police has said it will not be checking vaccine passports inside venues from October 11 – despite public health orders requiring businesses to turn away unvaccinated patrons.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed last week police would not be patrolling venues and checking if people are fully vaccinated.
Instead, shop owners have been urged to snitch on anti-vaxxers to police when NSW reopens.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he did not think police should be at the forefront of the checks.
In NSW, businesses face fines from $5000 all the way up to $11,000 and closure if they flagrantly disregard Covid safety plans.
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews said it was ‘critically important’ that businesses appointed a ‘suitably qualified person’, who had been trained in how the system worked, to oversee the task of vaccination passport control.
More than a dozen trials of the new process are scheduled to take place across Country Victoria next week in anticipation of Victoria reaching its vaccination targets on October 26,
Scheduled to start from October 11, it is anticipated the trials will cover hospitality, hairdressing, beauty services, tourism businesses and larger scale events such as race meetings.
Mr Andrews warned businesses that Covid safety ‘was not the most junior member’s job’ and pledged support to ensure a smooth run.
‘It is in everybody’s interests, particularly business, to take this seriously,’ he said.
Passports were once just used to gain entry to international travel. Now a vaccine passport will be required to get you into the pub
Vaccine passports will be required to enjoy a variety of sporting and leisure events
Hospitality staff fear confrontations with angry anti-vaxxers or customers who simply choose not to be vaccinated
Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO Wes Lambert said business owners remained hesitant on enforcement.
‘Ultimately your corner coffee shop, your restaurants, they don’t have the staff levels to have someone literally at the door every hour that they’re open checking people’s vaccine status and also there is some hesitancy about the privacy and discriminatory issues around having to check every customer’s vaccine status,’ he told ABC last month.
But Australian Hotels Association Victoria CEO Paddy O’Sullivan denied pub owners were concerned about checking vaccine passports.
‘We don’t see that as a major issue. Pubs and hotels have been managing the front door of pubs, hotels for a long, long time,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We think that this will blow past. It’s one of those issues that seems to gather some publicity … people who come to pubs and hotels are there for hospitality, they’re not there to cause a problem, normally.’
James Young, the owner of CBD venue Cherry Bar, has been among several in the live music scene to call for a vaccine passport system to be implemented when enough people are vaccinated.
In England, whose justice system Australia’s is modelled upon, plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events have been scrapped.
The Night Time Industries Association there said the plans could have crippled the industry and led to nightclubs facing discrimination cases.
While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison supports proof of vaccination, he has not committed to introducing laws defining how and when it should be used.