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NSW REOPENS: 6 crucial mistakes with fines up to $5,000

·4-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

‘Freedom Day’ is finally here: Thousands of businesses across NSW are opening their doors for the first time after more than 100 days of strict lockdown measures.

But the NSW roadmap to reopening contains rules that must be followed by businesses and customers alike, with those who do otherwise facing the risk of hefty thousand-dollar fines.

Also read:

Yahoo Finance did a round-up of the most important rules that must be kept in mind, and the potential penalties you might face.

If you’re a NSW business…

There’s a pretty significant onus on business owners to make sure their staff, customers and visitors are fully vaccinated.

“Businesses … are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people entering your premises,” the NSW Government outlines on its website.

That means business owners need to put up Service NSW QR check-in code signage and ensure staff are trained to check customers’ COVID-19 vaccine status.

WATCH BELOW: NSW Premier reveals roadmap changes

And if an unvaccinated customer enters your establishment, it’s also on you to ensure that they leave.

“If the occupier of the premises believes that a person does not have a valid exemption, the occupier can ask the person to leave the premises,” the NSW Government states. “If the person refuses, the occupier of the premises can notify the police.”

According to Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra, checking customers’ COVID-19 vaccine status represents the most significant change for businesses, which likely already have QR codes, social distancing and hand sanitisers in place.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 11: People are seen gathered outside at Bill and Tony's in East Sydney on October 11, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. COVID-19 restrictions have eased across NSW today after the state passed its 70 per cent double vaccination target. Under the state government's Reopening NSW Roadmap, people who are fully vaccinated are permitted to have 10 visitors in their homes, and outdoor gatherings can have up to 20 people. Hospitality, retail stores, gyms and hairdressers can reopen, as well as cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries. Indoor pools are also able to reopen and up to 500 people can attend ticketed outdoor events. Weddings and funerals are permitted to have up to 100 people provided all adults have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Churches and places of worship can open with no singing. Restrictions will ease further in NSW once the state reaches its next vaccination milestone of 80 per cent of people having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Fully vaccinated NSW residents are allowed to visit pubs, cafes, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salons again. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

“This requirement is only present for ‘non critical’ or general retail,” Zahra said, adding that only fully-vaccinated staff should be working in Greater Sydney in non-essential retail.

“Checking vaccination status is simply another safety protocol and like QR codes it will take a little time for customers to adjust to this requirement.”

Employers will also need to ensure staff are trained to deal with situations of conflict.

“Helping train staff in store protocols if customers become aggressive or refuse to comply is also important. It’s important retailers don’t become the enforcement for these protocols – but simply encourage compliance,” Zahra said. Staff should be trained on when to contact police for support in enforcing the rules.

Employsure health and safety manager Larry Drewson also warned employers had to “play their part” to make sure all rules were being followed.

“Ensure masks are still worn indoors, people check-in, capacity limits are being adhered to, hand sanitiser is still readily accessible, surfaces are regularly cleaned, and access is restricted to fully vaccinated people only, where required,” Drewsen said.

Just to be on the safe side, he added that business owners should set aside a bit of time every week to review government health advice to stay on top of any changes in directions that might result in fines if not followed.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 11: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet receives a haircut at Barberhood men's hair stylists on October 11, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. COVID-19 restrictions have eased across NSW today after the state passed its 70 per cent double vaccination target. Under the state government's Reopening NSW Roadmap, people who are fully vaccinated are permitted to have 10 visitors in their homes, and outdoor gatherings can have up to 20 people. Hospitality, retail stores, gyms and hairdressers can reopen, as well as cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries. Indoor pools are also able to reopen and up to 500 people can attend ticketed outdoor events. Weddings and funerals are permitted to have up to 100 people provided all adults have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Churches and places of worship can open with no singing. Restrictions will ease further in NSW once the state reaches its next vaccination milestone of 80 per cent of people having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Gaye Gerard - Pool/Getty Images)
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet gets a haircut on Monday 11 October as NSW restrictions ease. (Photo by Gaye Gerard - Pool/Getty Images)
  • PENALTIES: $5,000 or more

Businesses will face $5,000 on-the-spot fines if they don’t comply with public health order vaccination requirements.

But major breaches could even see businesses shut down.

“Further penalties including closure of businesses, and higher fines for individuals and businesses may apply for significant breaches,” the NSW Government states.

If you’re a NSW customer…

This is the main and most obvious rule: you need to prove your fully vaccinated status. The NSW roadmap only allows freedoms for residents who have had both COVID-19 vaccine jabs or have a medical exemption. Unvaccinated people will have to wait until 1 December to join.

At the moment, there are only two acceptable ways to give evidence of your vaccination status or medical exemption:

  1. The COVID-19 digital certificate via the Medicare App or smartphone wallet

  2. A printed version of your COVID-19 certificate or immunisation history statement

READ NOW: Had the COVID-19 jab? Here’s how to get proof on your phone

Service NSW is currently working on integrating proof of residents’ vaccine status into the Service NSW app. This would mean customers can check into an establishment and provide their vaccine status all in the one app.

However, the ‘VaxPass’ is currently still in the testing phase, and won’t be rolled out until 18 October, according to NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello.

  • PENALTIES: $1,000 or more

Individuals who aren’t following the rules will be dealt $1,000 on-the-spot fines for non-compliance.

This also applies if you’re found out for falsifying your vaccine status or check-in.

Yahoo Finance has reached out to the NSW Government for further comment.

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