‘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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
If you’re a NSW customer…
This is the main and most obvious rule: you need to prove your fully vaccinated status. The 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:
A printed version of your COVID-19 certificate or immunisation history statement
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.
This is the VaxPass.
1. It’s in testing phase now.
2. In the next few days we will undertake closed pilots in some regional areas.
3. At this stage we are still on track for statewide roll-out on 18 October… pic.twitter.com/WUNwKLHvFa
— Victor Dominello MP (@VictorDominello) October 8, 2021
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.