Sweeping vaccine mandate for 75 per cent of Western Australia’s workforce
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in to protest the Western Australian Government’s announcement that most of the state’s work force will have to be vaccinated against Covid.
Anti vaccination protesters gathered outside the front of Perth’s Dumas House with a heavy police presence on hand.
Vaccination against Covid-19 will be compulsory for about 75 per cent of Western Australia’s workforce, including in “high risk” jobs in teaching, hospitality and construction.
Premier Mark McGowan said anyone who does not comply could face hefty fines of up to $100,000 for employers and up to $20,000 for individual workers.
Mr McGowan on Wednesday announced the sweeping mandate for three separate cohorts of workers.
He said the policy was “proportionate and reasonable” and would prepare WA residents for the eventual community transmission of coronavirus when the state reopens its borders.
“We don’t want to fall down at the last hurdle. We’ve come too far, we’ve made too many sacrifices to throw it all away now,” he told reporters.
“It’s important to note that our new policy follows other wide-ranging policies that have already been in place in other jurisdictions.”
Under changes that were previously announced, those in group one must get their first dose by December 1 and be fully vaccinated by the end of the year.
Those people are in industries that have been determined to have high transmission risk or are critical to the safety of the community, such as police and workers in a range of sectors including healthcare, cross-border freight, corrective services and resources.
People in group two must have their first dose by December 31 and be fully vaccinated by January 31.
They include people in the workforce deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of business and the function of the community.
Those jobs include people working in supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, bars, cafes, post offices, hardware stores, childcare or family day care, schools or boarding schools, financial institutions, petrol stations, public and commercial transport, hotel and other accommodation facilities, and the building maintenance or construction industries.
School staff will need to be fully vaccinated before the start of term one next year.
Mr McGowan identified a third group of people who will need to be fully vaccinated to attend work if the state goes into a lockdown or has similar restrictions imposed.
This group will include people employed in bottle shops, newsagents, pet stores, wholesalers, critical conveyancing and settlement agents, government or local government services where working from home is not possible, vehicle or mechanical services, roadside assistance, primary industries and factories, manufacturing, media and members of parliament along with their staff.
About 73 per cent of WA’s population aged 12 years and over have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The state, which has enjoyed being relatively free from coronavirus, has had the slowest vaccination uptake of any Australian jurisdiction.
Health Minister Roger Cook said WA was in the “final phase” of the fight against the virus.
“In footy terms, we are deep into the final quarter,” he said.
“And as everyone knows, the final minutes of the game are the most dangerous. It’s the time when you make mistakes.
“Our enemy, the pandemic, never stops – it doesn’t fatigue … so we can’t keep our eye off the ball. We have to keep working hard.”
Originally published as Sweeping vaccine mandate for 75 per cent of Western Australia’s workforce
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