Geraldton businesses step up to vaccine mandate requirements

Jake DietschGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton businesses are stepping up to the COVID vaccine proof of vaccination requirements.
Camera IconGeraldton businesses are stepping up to the COVID vaccine proof of vaccination requirements. Credit: Jake Dietsch/Geraldton Guardian

A survey of Geraldton businesses has revealed a widespread commitment to obey the rules and keep COVID out.

Since January 31, proof of double vaccination has been required at a range of public places including cafes and restaurants, bottle shops, gyms and entertainment venues.

A survey of a dozen venues by the Guardian found a clear majority asked for proof of vaccination.

Businesses that asked to see proof included the Geraldton Museum, which also confirmed whether customers had been in Perth during the last fortnight, a fast food outlet, four out of five cafes, two bottle shops and two out of two restaurants.

At the cinemas, the Guardian did not show proof of vaccine, but other customers were being asked.

One café did not ask for proof and a gym did not ask for proof when a Guardian staff member signed up for a temporary membership.

According to WA Health, venues are required to take reasonable steps to ensure all patrons are double-dose vaccinated, or exempt.

Failure to comply with the mandates is punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for businesses.

Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Joanne Fabling said businesses were doing the right thing, but that the mandate had put them under a lot of pressure.

“At the end of the day we all want to go to work and come home and be healthy,” Ms Fabling said.

“Businesses are meeting their obligations but there has been a lot of concern about the responsibility placed on them to police the mandates.

“I have visited a number of businesses that are stressed and have had to visit people at tables to help them with the Service WA app.”

Ms Fabling said there remained “a huge level of anxiety” and said some businesses had closed when the mandates first started for fear of being fined.

“There have been businesses that have prematurely closed. They were likely businesses that were planning to sell, but there have been one or two businesses that have closed prematurely over the concern of the fine,” she said.

Ms Fabling said the chamber had also lost members that didn’t agree with the mandates as the chamber was also obligated to adhere to the rules.

The chamber CEO said the mandates were an added pressure to an already hard time for small business.

“We’ve just had two years of closures and restrictions, and now we have a skills shortage,” she said.

“The loss of staff over some of these mandates has also placed an enormous amount of stress on small business and especially on the tourism industry, which has been smashed.”

Geraldton police Senior Sergeant Chris Martin said the majority in Geraldton were doing the right thing and people had largely got “their heads across the new environment”.

“It’s all about keeping Geraldton safe. We are going to have to live with COVID and part of combatting the virus is to show proof of vaccination,” he said.

“We’re getting less complaints and inquiries as people get used to the new rules.

“I have been to cafes around town and I offer my proof because I know that it’s a requirement. But staff have also asked.”

Sen. Sgt Martin said he sympathised with businesses as many of the requirements “seemingly came in overnight”.

“We’ve been playing catch up over the last few weeks,” he said.

“But it is the law. And it’s been good to see a lot of people have been looking on the Healthy WA website and inquiring with police when they’re unsure.”

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