Business in NSW regions are facing a new set of challenges as the state started re-opening on Monday.
While "Freedom Day" was celebrated across NSW on Monday, October 11, the restrictions lifted are only for fully vaccinated people, with those not yet vaccinated locked back in to essentials only.
Eric Wolske of Eden Chamber of Commerce on the NSW South Coast said businesses were dealing with inconsistencies such as being able to have single-vaccinated staff, but not single-vaccinated customers.
"I think the feelings across businesses were echoed across the whole region," Mr Wolske said.
"There are lot of inconsistencies with how it's been done, people can't understand why they could come in to shops yesterday and can't today.
"Some businesses can open with single-vaccinated employees but have to turn away single-vaccinated customers.
He participated in a Zoom conference with local MP Kristy McBain last week to talk through the COVID roadmap.
"We must take reasonable steps to ensure we follow the guidelines, have the new posters up, ask people if they aware of the new requirements," he said.
Mr Wolske also runs Eden Antiques and said most people were freely showing their proof of vaccination without being asked to.
"But a lot of businesses are feeling uncomfortable about having to ask to see medical records," he said.
Also of concern in the southern part of the shire was the potential lack of awareness of residents visiting from neighbouring Victorian bubble border communities.
"We have had people from Mallacoota here and they were not aware they are required to show proof of vaccination in NSW," Mr Wolske said.
"They are free to travel across to the border regions, but the communication between the states just isn't there."
Merimbula Chamber of Commerce president Nigel Ayling said there were key elements people have concerns about, such as feeling responsible for verifying vaccination status of the public before allowing them to enter the premises.
"We are running with the health guidelines, which say businesses are responsible for taking reasonable steps, one of which is to make sure posters outlining the guidelines are clearly visible," Mr Ayling said.
According to Mr Ayling, the NSW government advice for businesses relating to proof of COVID vaccination prior to entering businesses is somewhat open to interpretation, with the phrases 'reasonable steps' and 'where practical' used.
"We don't want to have businesses or people arguing in shop doorways about who can or can't do what, it's not good for anybody," Mr Ayling said.
"We are encouraging businesses to take a sensible approach and to have a relevant poster visible about it in their windows, if there any issues around the matter it should be referred to the police."
The government advice which has been passed on to local businesses by the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce is as follows:
- ensure posters outlining vaccination requirements and Service NSW QR codes are clearly visible
- train staff on ways to check proof of COVID-19 vaccination status (or a valid exemption) and what to do if someone refuses to be checked or is not vaccinated
- remind customers of vaccination requirements in marketing materials and when taking and confirming bookings
- consider ways for non-vaccinated customers to purchase products online
- checking vaccination status upon entry where practical.
"Our advice is to ensure those things are done - if the occupier believes person does not have valid exemptions can ask the person to leave the premises and if they refuse can notify police," Mr Ayling said.
"Obviously we hope that people act responsibly and it doesn't come to that, but we certainly encourage business not to take policing of the health orders in to their own hands."