NSW businesses expected to take ‘reasonable’ measures to stop unvaccinated patrons in new public health advice

Businesses will be forced to take “reasonable” measures to stop unvaccinated people entering under new public health advice that will take effect from October 11.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said COVID-19 would continue to circulate in the community once NSW reached the 70 per cent double dose vaccination target.

“We are closing-in on the 70 per cent double dose mark and when we achieve it there will be significant changes to our public health advice,” he said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard. (Nine)

“The key difference will be how that advice is applied to people who are vaccinated and to those who are not.”

“Vaccination will provide greater freedoms as our society opens up and it reduces the risk of you spreading the virus to someone vulnerable, which could cost them their life.

Mr Hazzard said it was vital everyone followed the new public health advice that would be in place from 11 October.

Here’s a rundown on what the public health advice will involve.

For the general community

  • Everyone – vaccinated or not – will be urged to get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 and to immediately self-isolate until a negative result is received
  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 – vaccinated or not – will have to self-isolate for 14 days
  • Close contacts in the community will include household members of positive cases and close social contacts of positive cases, such as partners and friends, who the person with the virus spent time in close proximity with, even if fully vaccinated. Anyone may also be assessed as a being a close contact following a risk assessment, including at workplaces, high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care, and other specific settings such as schools and child care centres, or where an outbreak has been identified
  • Close contacts of a positive case who are vaccinated will have to get tested and self-isolate for seven days. On day six after exposure, the person will have to get tested again. If a negative result is received and they are well, they can end isolation after day seven. For the following seven days the person must work from home where practicable, not attend hospitality settings, and not attend a high-risk settings even if it is their place of work
Fully vaccinated people in NSW will enjoy a return to freedom when the vaccination target of 80 per cent is met in late October.
Fully vaccinated people in NSW will enjoy a return to freedom when the vaccination target of 80 per cent is met in late October. (Getty)
  • Close contacts of a positive case who are not vaccinated will have to get tested and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. On day 12, they should get tested again. If a negative result is received, they can end isolation after day 14
  • The Service NSW QR code check-in system will remain in place in the general community. This system will be used to notify people who were in the same venue as a positive case. People will be asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they become unwell
  • People aged 16 years and over will only be allowed entry into some venues or settings if fully vaccinated, along with people with exemptions. In some venues, children under 16 will have to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household to enter. This includes hospitality venues, non-critical retail stores, personal services, sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities and events. Critical retail such as supermarkets and pharmacies will still be accessible to those not fully vaccinated

  • If a staff member tests positive, whether they are vaccinated or not, they will have to self-isolate for 14 days and follow the advice from NSW Health. Businesses will refer to their COVID-19 Safety Plan and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying other staff
  • Businesses will have to inform NSW Health if three or more employees test positive for COVID-19 in a seven-day period
  • NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID-19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken
  • Businesses will be able to reduce the risk of closure or staff going into isolation by implementing rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans. Other proactive steps businesses could include ensuring staff are vaccinated and implementing regular onsite testing programs for workers
A pop-up vaccination hub  at the Waterloo Public Housing Estate in Sydney.
A pop-up vaccination hub at the Waterloo Public Housing Estate in Sydney. (Dominic Lorrimer)

On vaccination compliance and obligations

  • Businesses will be responsible for taking reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people entering premises. For example, having prominent signs stating requirements, Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination
  • Authorised officers will monitor businesses re-opening, particularly those with vaccination requirements, for example hospitality, retail, gyms, and personal services (e.g. hair, beauty)
  • Penalties may apply for individuals and businesses who don’t comply. On the spot fines of $1000 may apply to individuals for not complying, or for using fraudulent evidence of vaccination or check-in. On the spot fines of $5000 may apply to businesses for not complying with the Public Health Order vaccination requirements. Further penalties may apply for significant breaches.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the advice was likely to be updated as case numbers and evidence changed.

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