Geraldton pub manager warns vax status regime is coming

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Wintersun - One of the most energetic frontmen in the game, and the crowd couldn't help but follow suit
Camera IconWintersun - One of the most energetic frontmen in the game, and the crowd couldn't help but follow suit Credit: Edward Scown/Midwest Times

A Geraldton pub manager who will have to enforce the new ‘no jab, no entry’ rule from next month says the unvaccinated will eventually have to accept being turned away from a “pint and a parmy” and missing out on big events.

New mandatory vaccination requirements for pub entry came into effect on Tuesday for venues with a capacity of more than 500 in the Perth and Peel regions, with only the double-jabbed allowed in once they show their vaccine certificates. Despite the Mid West not coming under direct effect as yet, the new rules are still creating confusion and outrage among local punters.

When WA’s hard border is dismantled on February 5, venues that host events with a capacity of 1000-plus will have to enforce the new entry rules.

The Wintersun Hotel is one of the biggest venues in Geraldton, with a capacity of 1270. As an example, the hotel’s Southern River Band concert last October would have been affected by the new vaccination status regime.

Manager Kyson Shepherd said his venue would not be turning away customers until he was told to, but the Wintersun was well prepared to deal with the extra task.

“Everyone’s pretty good with signing in at the moment. We’re probably just going to get a few Karens who try to quote the Geneva Convention to us,” he said.

“I think the biggest problem will be people not knowing, and getting a surprise when we say ‘sorry, I can’t give you a pint and a parmy’.”

But most local venues aren’t jumping the gun yet to check the jab status of the their punters.

The announcement sparked an outcry from those who haven’t received two doses, concerned they would be shut out of their favourite watering holes.

However, as the current requirement only applies to Perth and Peel, Geraldton pubs aren’t required to check at all — at least not yet.

“There hasn’t been any policy in from the government, so at the moment, nothing applies here,” Geraldton Beach Hotel Manager Brian King said.

The GBH is licensed for 370 people, meaning the requirement wouldn’t apply to them even if it was extended to the regions, but Mr King expects they will eventually be forced to ask for vaccination certificates at the door.

“We’re monitoring what’s going on in Queensland, and over there everyone that goes to a pub has to prove (their vaccination status),” he said.

“We’re being told that we may have to check everybody, but we don’t know yet. We’re waiting.”

The Valley Tavern owners Kristina Drage and Scott Simister with venue manager Semi Tokula, centre.
Camera IconThe Valley Tavern owners Kristina Drage and Scott Simister with venue manager Semi Tokula, centre. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

Freemasons Hotel co-owner Kris Drage, who also co-owns the Murchison Tavern and Nabawa Valley Tavern, said the confusion had caused an online backlash against her businesses, which she said were also not affected by current restrictions.

“I went straight on the front foot to say it’s business as usual,” she said.

“It’s a big punch in the guts. With all the shortages, it’s a really tough industry at the moment.”

Publicans of some of Geraldton’s smaller establishments are bracing for what could be a big strain on their already stretched staff if restrictions expand to other regions.

“It will be an absolute nightmare,” Ms Drage said.

“People are angry. Even though most people are vaccinated, it’s still a massive divisive issue, and we already cop enough s...”

Fines for non-compliance can be as high as $100,000, which Ms Drage said would represent two months of lost business for the Freemasons.

‘No jab, no entry’ rules apply to all nightclubs in the Perth and Peel regions, regardless of capacity. However, local nightclubs are also immune to those rules until the borders open on February 5.

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