Dining in NSW pubs could reopen before October to vaccinated customers and workers under a plan that the peak hotel industry has put forward to the state government.
The Australian Hotels Association has been in discussions with the NSW government about reopening pubs to vaccinated workers and patrons in alfresco and indoor dining areas before the vaccination rate in the state reaches the 70% milestone.
John Green, director of Liquor and Policing at the Australian Hotels Association, says it would be reasonable for hospitality venues to open as an interim measure while vaccination rates slowly increase.
“We see it as a great incentive for both staff and patrons to get vaccinated if they want to,” Green tells SmartCompany.
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The hotel industry’s plan does not include mandating patrons and workers to get vaccinated. Instead, the plan allows venues to reopen safely to people willing to get vaccinated.
“We’re saying it’s voluntary, if you want to come in for a beer, if you want to come in for a meal, then it’s your choice,” Green says.
A major obstacle that the industry faces before it can welcome patrons on site for a pub meal is increasing vaccination rates among its workforce.
Many workers have not had the chance to receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine due to their age. In NSW, Pfizer vaccines only became available to people aged between 16 and 39 this month.
To boost vaccination rates, the hotel industry is also calling for hospitality workers to be prioritised in the vaccination rollout.
“We should be having a ‘super hospitality Sunday’ where we get as many hospitality workers as we can to those vaccination centres across the state,” Green says.
Struggling hospitality venues in NSW are not alone in their push for reopening as soon as possible to vaccinated patrons and workers.
Melbourne’s iconic Chapel Street Precinct has called on the Victorian government to create a roadmap that would allow businesses to reopen to double-vaccinated Melburnians.
Chrissie Maus, general manager of Chapel Street Precinct, said she has been inundated with calls from business owners along the busy shopping and hospitality precinct who are frustrated with ongoing lockdowns.
“Our businesses are ready and willing to jump through any hoop to reopen safely. The sooner we do so, the better for livelihoods and everyone’s mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
“Data shows that double jabbed people are less likely to spread the virus.”