Random police COVID vaccine checks the ‘new normal’ at Geraldton venues

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton police are checking COVID vaccine certificates at local venues.
Camera IconGeraldton police are checking COVID vaccine certificates at local venues. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

Geraldton police have started conducting spot checks of COVID vaccine certificates at local venues, but no arrests or fines have been issued since the mandate was introduced.

One woman took to social media to describe the “horrible atmosphere” which accompanied vaccine checks by two officers at Quiet Life Specialty Coffee this week.

The police checks in Geraldton come in the wake of officers crashing a service at St Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Perth following reports some visitors were not wearing masks.

Geraldton police station officer-in-charge Sen. Sgt. Chris Martin said he had seen some of the social media commentary, but said patrons should not be alarmed if they were approached by police.

“Don’t be concerned if you don’t have (a vaccine certificate) right there and then, we are not going to be issuing fines right now and we are not going to be arresting people,” he said.

“We just want to make sure people understand the rules, understand that checks will be conducted and it is our job to do that.

“I am very sympathetic and I understand it feels a bit strange, it feels like you have done something wrong but you haven’t we are just asking everyone to do the right thing.”

Quiet Life in Geraldton.
Camera IconPatrons have reported seeing police conducting vaccine checks at Quiet Life cafe. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

Sen. Sgt. Martin said it had been “a bit of a struggle” for police to adapt to new instructions and roles received in recent weeks, but believed the mandates were not going away any time soon.

“This is the new world we live in, unfortunately. We want to try and keep our community as safe as possible and part of that might be a police officer asking for you to prove your vaccination status,” he said.

Even though the double-dose vaccination rate for Geraldton is more than 95 per cent, Sen. Sgt. Martin said proof-of-vaccination checks were an important part of preventing community transmission of the virus.

“COVID will eventually arrive in Geraldton. With any outbreaks we have, we want to try to minimise the spread of them as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We do have a large elderly community in Geraldton and they are one of the groups that are at highest risk. So all of these steps we are taking, its all to keep everyone safe.”

New laws were also introduced to give police the power to prosecute anyone who acts in an aggressive or intimidating manner towards staff who ask for proof of vaccination. But Sen. Sgt. Chris Martin said no arrests have been made under these provisions.

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