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    West Vic Business chair Paul Atherton and ambassador Stacey Taig.

Vaccination orders slammed as new rules come into play

A regional business-advocacy group is appealing to the Wimmera community to stay calm and respectful to business owners and staff after the State Government’s mandatory vaccination order for authorised workers came into effect on Friday.

West Vic Business, the Wimmera’s peak chamber of commerce, made the plea after receiving calls from business owners faced with having to terminate employment of staff members who refuse vaccination.

West Vic Business ambassador Stacey Taig said the process was emotional for all involved.

“I don’t know many businesses that will not be impacted in some way by this,” she said. “We have been inundated with calls from business owners who have been faced with the unenviable task of informing staff they will no longer have a job.

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“While vaccination is a personal choice, there is the feeling from these individuals that their right to choose is being taken from them with the restriction of their movement within the community.

“Unfortunately, business owners are and will be bearing the brunt of these individuals’ frustrations, and that of the greater community.

“I would hope everyone is mindful of the fact and remembers that while the responsibility of enforcing these new regulations has been placed on the business owners, they are not responsible nor should they be held accountable for the direction that we are now taking regarding mandatory vaccinations.”

Ms Taig said on top of the financial and personal stress business owners had faced during the past 18 months, dealing with the mandate as well was ‘incredibly’ taxing.

“As customers and staff, we need to be understanding and take a considered approach to how we act and communicate with one another,” she said.

Ms Taig said West Vic Business members received information last week regarding mandatory vaccination requirements and clarification of their obligations and specified dates. 

She said businesses unclear where they stood from a legal perspective could call West Vic Business on 0423 200 332 or email

West Vic Business, meanwhile, was awaiting further word this week on details about evolving direction involving customer-vaccination circumstances.

Ms Taig said the organisation hoped an announcement of increased capacities in hospitality venues, gyms and cinemas would lead into even greater easing of restrictions ahead of quicker-than-anticipated vaccination rates.  

“This in turn will result in additional restrictions being lifted sooner rather than later,” she said.

“While the end to previous lockdowns and easing of restrictions had been welcomed by many, our hospitality, entertainment and event sectors remained heavily impacted, with the flow-on effect of limited patrons and customers permitted. This in many instances, meant that opening the doors translated to bad business. So there are those that chose to remain shut, rather than trade at a loss.

“The announcement sees hospitality, gyms and cinemas allowed up to 30 fully vaccinated people, and up to 100 fully vaccinated people or 20 unvaccinated people for outdoor venues.

“The next course of action for our members and the business community will be to keep abreast of issues surrounding customer-vaccination requirements. We will be in contact as soon as we are notified.”

UPDATE: In latest developments, West Vic Business has slammed late changes to rules governing the hospitality industry and vaccination requirements.

Ms Taig said a ‘backflip and contradictory advice that has been provided by the State Government in respect to the hospitality sector and its staff vaccination requirements is nothing short of negligent’.

“Taking into consideration the short period in which these business owners are now being asked to assess and re-evaluate their employee's situations, and, in many instances, lose the bulk of their staff as a result, is absolute madness,” she said.

“This last minute 'clarification', now insists that the hospitality sector, including waiters, cooks and any staff where a sit-down meal can be served, must be fully vaccinated by 11.59pm Thursday, October 21, 2021.

“We at West Vic Business can only commiserate with those business owners and staff affected by this short-notice amendment, and offer assistance and support where we can.”

Ms Taig implored business people to reach out if they needed support.

“It is our job to do what we can for you and we will endeavour to do so,” she said.

The entire October 20, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!