Small businesses left confused about vaccines as SA border rules ease

South Australia

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia has elicited mixed responses from the small business community, as an influx of visitors is set to bring more trade and potential workers to the state as well as greater risks.

Fully vaccinated travellers from Victoria and New South Wales have been able to enter South Australia since yesterday, except for residents of Byron Bay, where the vaccination rate is yet to reach 80%. This means that Australians from any state can now enter South Australia as long as they are fully vaccinated, and these vaccinated visitors can apply for entry using EntryCheck SA.

Martin Haese, chief executive of Business SA, says the easing of border rules this week is like “a double-edged sword” because while it is a good thing for local businesses, it also means letting COVID-19 into the state.

“Higher risk customer-facing sectors such as hospitality and retail are facing the reality of COVID-19 entering their business,” Haese tells SmartCompany.

As a result of the SA border restrictions, Haese says small businesses across many industry sectors have struggled to get stock, had fewer customers, and found it challenging to find staff.

“With the borders reopening, many of these issues will begin to resolve themselves,” he says.

The relaxation of border rules coincides with the release of an updated version of the mySA Gov app, which allows people to integrate their digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate into the mySA Gov app, which is used for QR check-in at venues.

But these changes have left some small businesses confused, with the state chamber of commerce, Business SA, receiving hundreds of enquiries through its business advice hotline this week.

“Our business advice hotline has been running hot with questions from employers and business owners about vaccination in the workplace and the Work Health and Safety Act,” Haese says.

Business owners are seeking advice about how to protect their staff and their duty of care as an employer, which Haese says is often not easy to navigate.

In South Australia, there is no vaccination mandate that requires workers in the retail industry to be double vaccinated. Nor is there a requirement for customers to be fully vaccinated in retail and dining venues.

In fact, the decision to enforce a vaccination mandate rests with business owners in most industries, excluding the most high-risk sectors.

Late on Monday, the South Australian government announced a vaccination mandate for people who work in transport, such as most rideshare drivers and public transport workers. This mandate adds to others related to workers in healthcare settings, education facilities, aged care facilities and for SA Police.

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