Starting on Dec. 17, anyone who enters a café, restaurant, bar, theater, museum, library, stadium, or similar venues will have to show proof they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The rules, however, are not mandatory for supermarkets and grocery stores, although Australian officials said every business—including supermarkets, groceries, and other essential businesses—has the option to impose a mandate.
Small Business Minister Di Farmer told news outlets this week that the mandate doesn’t encompass essential services like grocery stores, post offices, and pharmacies. But they can opt-in, Farmer remarked.
“The essential services are the things that really remained open during lockdown,” Farmer was quoted by 4BC Radio as saying. “There will also be a range of other businesses who may make the choice just to only have their vaccinated staff and patrons using their business.”
In elaborating on whether groceries and supermarkets can mandate vaccines for entry, Farmer said it is “available to every business.”
“Any business is able to make that decision, and a lot of them are actually thinking about that very seriously,” she said, without elaborating on what businesses are considering it. When Queensland rescinds its lockdown orders, Farmer added, “you will need to be protected and businesses all over Queensland will be making that decision.”
“If a person decides not to be vaccinated, then those are the things that they will take into consideration,” she said.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Queensland government for additional comment.
“We have a critical role to play providing food and essentials to all Australians, and will not require customers to be vaccinated to shop in our stores,” the spokesperson said. “Our stores have remained open throughout the pandemic, with strong Covidsafe settings to uphold public health and ensure the continuity of essential supply to communities.”
As vaccine passports become increasingly more commonplace, concerns have been raised that these systems would create a two-tiered society of the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and they’ve also been flagged for their potential to discriminate against vaccine-hesitant groups within society. Some public health officials argued that such mandates are needed to drive up vaccination rates.
Some civil liberties groups have also expressed alarm over a bevy of COVID-19 rules and restrictions that have been imposed across Australia. For example, the Victoria’s Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill 2021 was passed earlier this week, which was branded by opposition lawmakers as the “most dangerous in Victoria’s history.”
The law would grant the ability to declare a pandemic to Victoria’s Premier and Health Minister’s office, who will have the power to enforce orders including lockdowns, mask-wearing, vaccination mandates, and quarantines. Previously, the government had to seek permission through Parliament to extend a state of emergency.