Business needs consistency on vaccine freedoms

16 Sep 2021 |

With businesses facing contradictory and vague advice on vaccination passports, ACCI is urging National Cabinet to finalise clear and cohesive guidelines on vaccine freedoms to further incentivise the jab.

For the business community, managing the risk of customers is critical to reopening safely.  At present, it is still unclear what freedoms the vaccinated will have, whether businesses will be able to refuse those without a jab, or how to police vaccination passports.

“The absence of a cohesive policy for workplaces dealing with patrons, jabbed or unjabbed, means that small and medium businesses are being left in the lurch,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said.

“Despite the vaccine rollout beginning in February, and experiences from other countries, we still have a hotchpotch of contradictory and vague advice.  Left in the dark, individual businesses are making decisions on managing their workplaces to keep their staff and customers safe.

“When it meets tomorrow, National Cabinet must take urgent steps to provide clear and nationally consistent advice around vaccination passports, so that businesses can reopen safely.  We need a plan for how this will work in practice, and who will be responsible for enforcement.

“Leaving businesses to check vaccination status, decide whether to accept unvaccinated patrons, and then having to police that decision, will mean that many customer-facing businesses will suffer.

“The lack of clarity is particularly stressful for small and medium businesses who don’t have the resources to navigate complex privacy and discrimination laws. These businesses, that have already been smashed by lockdowns and restrictions, are now facing the threats of legal challenges that will ultimately end up in courts.

“Businesses need to know their rights and responsibilities as lockdowns will begin to lift in the next few months. Without clear rules and guidelines on who can be served, governments are placing a huge imposition on small businesses.

“We need vaccine freedoms clarified now. Businesses who have been battered by lockdowns cannot afford any delay in reopening as soon as it is safe to do so.

ACCI is also advocating for critical steps to be taken by governments as vaccination increases towards reopening thresholds.

“Employers are still confused about encouraging or mandating jabs for their employees, and how they can turn their workplaces into vaccination hubs,” Andrew added.

“The ramp up of rapid antigen testing will also be critical for businesses, as we open up and learn to live with the virus.

Jack Quail

Media Officer

P  |  0498 181 207

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