“Respect the staff”: Qld Small Business Minister calls for civility as businesses brace for vaccine rules

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Queensland Employment and Small Business Minister Di Farmer. Source: AAP/Dan Peled.

Queensland Small Business Minister Di Farmer is warning diners and theatre-goers to treat workers in small businesses with respect, as employers brace for new vaccine rules to come into effect in two weeks.

When 80% of eligible Queenslanders are fully vaccinated, a public health order will require a host of businesses to only allow vaccinated people to enter and work in their venues. These businesses include hospitality and entertainment venues, accommodation providers, tourism experiences and festivals.

Farmer said the state will launch an advertising campaign one week before the health order kicks in on December 17, urging all Queenslanders to “respect the staff and the rules that they have in place”.

“We do not expect business owners or staff to be the police — if there are customers refusing to comply with the rules, then the police will step in,” Farmer said.

Farmer added that aggressive and abusive behaviour will “simply not be tolerated” and penalties apply for people who don’t comply with the rules.

Individuals and businesses that don’t follow the public health order face fines of up to $13,785 — or up to six months’ jail time.

Last year, the state government made it illegal for someone to intentionally cough, spit or sneeze on retail workers, enforcing $1335 on the spot fines or court ordered penalties of up to $13,345.

Vaccine guidance for SMEs

The state government has worked with local business groups from the hospitality and tourism sectors to develop guidance for small businesses affected by the fast-approaching public health order.

“Signage is now available for businesses to display so that customers are clear on the vaccination requirements before they walk in — similar to what we have done with the Check In Qld app,” Farmer said.

Business owners and their staff can also access free online training courses through a partnership between TAFE Queensland and the state government. The training is designed to help hospitality and entertainment businesses implement the new vaccine rules, while monitoring the entry of their customers.

As part of the public health order, businesses are required to display visible signage that outlines the vaccination requirements that apply in their venues, including how to check in.

Similar to in NSW and Victoria, the Queensland government has linked vaccination certificates to the Check In Qld app, allowing customers to check in and show their vaccine status at the same time.

Queensland Small Business Commissioner Maree Adshead told SmartCompany her office was already receiving enquiries from small business owners seeking advice about what the rules mean for them and how to prepare.

Adshead, who has advocated for the government to provide information to small businesses affected by the public health order, said it was pleasing to see the Queensland government release a range of resources.

“Businesses need the support to help them understand the rules and they need the tools to train their staff on how to communicate the new rules to their customers,” she said.

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