According to Chief Health Officer’s (CHO) health direction No.55, the COVID-19 vaccination is now mandatory for any worker or volunteer who has contact with the public to attend a workplace. They will also need to have received their second jab by Christmas Eve.
The direction applies to workers who are likely to come into contact with a vulnerable person, workers who are at risk of infection with COVID-19 because they are likely to come into contact with a person or thing that poses a risk of infection, and workers whose workplaces put them at a high risk of infection.
It also includes workers who perform “work that is necessary for the operation or maintenance of essential infrastructure or essential logistics in the Territory.”
This means a wide range of workers come under the mandate, including health care workers, teachers, child care workers, disability care workers, people in retail or hospitality jobs, tradespeople, as well as police and emergency service personnel.
At a press conference on Oct. 13, Chief Minister Michael Gunner made it clear that the directive would mean the majority of the NT workforce would need to be vaccinated, reported Sky News.
“So it is simple. If your job includes interacting with members of the public, then you need to get the jab,” he said.
He also stated that those who haven’t had their first shot by Nov. 13 would not be allowed to attend their place of work in that role, and failure to comply with the direction will mean a $5,000 fine.
The direction includes an exemption for those who can’t receive a vaccine because of a “proven medical contraindication to all available COVID-19 vaccines.”
However, it also notes that workers under the mandate are likely to require a booster shot in 2022.
Employers have the responsibility to ensure that their employees comply with the mandate, taking “reasonable steps to determine the extent to which any worker who performs work for the person is vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine.”
Employees likewise have a responsibility to provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination status upon request.
Anti-Mandatory Vaccine Darwin Business to Close as Mandate Kicks in
The deadline for the vaccinations comes as one Darwin business that had been campaigning against mandatory workplace vaccinations announced it would close its doors.
On Thursday, NT news aired a social media video of Violet Tolios, owner of Souvlaki Grill and Chill in Darwin, who conceded that the battle to prevent mandatory workplace vaccinations was lost.
“Due to the COVID-19 mandate here in Darwin, we are forced to close our doors and walk away from the business,” Tolios said in an emotional post.
This comes on the back of a run in with police in July, where Tolios was arrested after allegedly refusing to close her restaurant doors for not complying with directions from the CHO, NT News reported on July 8.
She had previously been fined $25,000 for alleged breaches, including the lack of a COVID-19 check-in facility, as well as not enforcing mask wearing for staff and customers.
“I’m here with a heavy heart to let our customers know that today and tomorrow (Friday) is going to be our last day of trading, and Saturday we will not be open,” she said.