Local MP Tamara Smith (Greens) is urging those unvaccinated to get their shots, warning that while the region has ‘managed to dodge bullets, the most dangerous time will be leading up, to and after, all lockdowns end on October 11’.
Ms Smith estimates that if 20 per cent of the north coast does not get vaccinated, that equates to around 36,000 people who may become exposed to the virus. ‘It could overwhelm health services’, she says.
Ms Smith says the government is telling people to prepare for COVID-19 cases, and given that Sydney residents will be 85-90 per cent vaccinated by December 1, she suspects cases on the north coast will increase.
‘We will be 80 per cent fully vaxxed by end of October (based on the Primary Health Network modelling), when the visitors start to arrive’.
Statistics from countries such as Israel, and in Europe, indicate that fully vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, pass it on to others, and can also die from the disease, albeit in lower numbers.
The NSW government says after a 70 per cent vaccination rate is reached, ‘it’s time for NSW to get back to business’.
Reopening for businesses that have fully vaccinated staff is expected to start Monday October 11. By December 1, the NSW government says there will be ‘further easing of restrictions for everyone, whether vaccinated or not’.
Yet it is unknown how such measures will play out in the north coast, which has both high rates of vaccine hesitancy/opposition and a large population of small business owners.
The government’s ‘compliance and business obligations’ document (which is part of its ‘Guidance for businesses’ documents) says that ‘Businesses are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people entering your premises’.
The NSW government’s compliance measures are also very vague, and say, ‘Authorised officers will monitor businesses re-opening, particularly those that have vaccination requirements, for example hospitality, retail, gyms and personal services (e.g. hair, beauty)’.
The government’s proof of vaccination sheet says, ‘Anyone aged 16 or over will need to be fully vaccinated (or have an exemption) to enter most venues, including hospitality venues, non-critical retail stores, personal services, sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities and events. Critical retail such as supermarkets or pharmacies will still be accessible for people who are not fully vaccinated’.
Proof of vaccination will be via a ‘COVID-19 digital certificate’, available from the ‘Express Plus Medicare mobile app or Medicare online account, through myGov’.
Those without a smartphone can obtain a ‘A COVID-19 digital certificate or immunisation history statement… via myGov to download and print. Alternatively, call the Australian Immunisation Register to request a copy in the post’.
And for those with a medical exemption for vaccination, the government says, ‘speak to your medical practitioner about getting your medical contraindication added to your immunisation history’.
‘Safety guidelines’ for business have been issued by the NSW government, which include COVID Safe check-ins and proof of vaccination, which ‘will be required for staff and customers’.
According to the NSW government, those fully vaccinated in NSW was 64.9 per cent of the population aged 16 and over (as of September 30).
Those with a first dose are 87.5 per cent.