COVID-19

Businesses to ‘express interest’ in vax passport trial

The state government said on Sunday Warrnambool, Greater Bendigo, Bass Coast, Pyrenees, Buloke and East Gippsland would trial the vaccinated economy settings from October 11.Twenty trial sites will be established in those municipalities in sectors such as hospitality, tourism, hair and beauty as well as events such as country race meetings, community events and concerts.The trial will mimic statewide settings when 70 per cent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated.Be Bendigo chief executive officer Dennis Bice said he was excited for the region’s businesses to tap into the pilot program, but added that “the devil is in the detail”. He said it was still unclear who could participate, how many businesses would be allowed into the program and how the system would work. “Whenever they announce something it would be great to get the detail as soon as possible,” Mr Bice said. “It would be foolish to make assumptions on what this will look like. “I would hope that comes through this week.”He conceded there was some nervousness in the community about the vaccine passports, but he hoped that would fade away once the details were clear. “Everyone has an opinion and a point of view on this,” he said. Mr Bice said chambers of commerce had pushed for financial incentives for the pilot program so it was not an “impost on businesses”, particularly due to the threat of abuse from angry unvaccinated customers.“We all want to get somewhere like normal,” Mr Bice said. “(They) need to understand that the businesses are only trying to do the right thing.”Ripon MP Louise Staley said little detail was provided in the announcement. “Businesses have no idea what sort of density limits will apply to them,” she said. “There will be no financial support for local businesses impacted by the trial.” Bass State Labor MP Jordan Crugnale said businesses needed to contact their peak industry body to express their interest in participating. The state government will then engage with industry peak bodies and local councils for nominations.Ms Crugnale said large and small businesses could participate including pubs, cafes, tourism operators as well as one-off events.“To be considered, it will be important that businesses and organisations can demonstrate strong capability to support a trial,” she said. “In addition to the usual Covid Safe compliance we are looking for ability to work through any implementation challenges, record keeping of how proof of vaccination was presented by patrons, record keeping of any issues and support consideration of how others in their sector will need to implement in phase B.”Ms Crugnale said the state government would engage with peak bodies and local councils this week to seek nominations. They expect to finalise selection early next week so training and inductions can start before trials begin on October 11. “These trials will support our local businesses and community organisations to open with the appropriate systems in place as we move toward a vaccinated economy and more freedoms,” Ms Crugnale said. “It means that Victorians can get back to enjoying being part of their community in greater numbers.“It’s a win all-round.” City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann said the region’s selection into the trial was a reward for Bendigo residents’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and get their shots. “Being selected in the trial is a reflection of Greater Bendigo’s high vaccination rate and current low case numbers,” Mr Niemann said. “This is a great opportunity for those who want to participate to help inform a system that will likely be with us for some time.”Mr Niemann said he hoped businesses would take up the opportunity and sign up for the pilot program. Pyrenees Shire mayor Damian Ferrari said he was pleased the area had been chosen. “We’re keen to learn more about the trial,” he said. “It’s exciting to know that a couple of Pyrenees businesses will be taking part in it and helping getting the Victorian economy back to normal after all the hardships that have been created by the global pandemic.”

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