Victoria firm on hospitality vax mandate

The AHA says the state government has
The AHA says the state government has "moved the goalposts" on the hospitality sector.

Victorian authorities are standing by a mandate for hospitality workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before Melbourne's pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen, despite fury from the sector.

Hospitality staff must be fully vaccinated in order to work when Melbourne's lockdown lifts on Friday, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The double-dose requirement will apply to all Victorian hospitality workers aged over 16 the state government has confirmed.

This is despite online health directions stating authorised workers, including hospitality, must have one dose of a vaccine by October 22, with a second dose required by November 26.

Australian Hotels Association Victoria chief executive Paddy O'Sullivan, which represents pubs and hotels across the state, said the government had "moved the goalposts".

"Members who were ordering stock, rostering staff on the previous timing schedule for vaccination, only to then be told yesterday that is in jeopardy - they are furious," he told AAP.

"Staff are distraught, having been basically on and off at their workplace for the last 18 months or more. It is very, very upsetting."

The AHA wants a grace period so staff can get fully vaccinated, similar to that given to the construction industry, because otherwise many venues will not be able to open, it says.

But Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar said "there is no wriggle room" on the mandate and it should not be a problem for employers to find fully vaccinated staff.

"It would be bizarre to be in a world where we have said, 'you can only be a customer in these places if you are fully vaccinated' but the staff do not need to be fully vaccinated. That doesn't really stack up," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"We would expect the people that are now being asked to please come back into work are the first ones to have got themselves organised to get themselves fully vaccinated, so that they can serve their customers."

The hospitality sector confusion comes at the same time as the entertainment industry's hopes of reopening indoors were dashed by a "typo" in COVID-19 directions.

Documents were released on Sunday suggesting they could open to 20 patrons, but on Tuesday Premier Daniel Andrews said their inclusion was an error and they could not reopen until 80 per cent double vaccination coverage.

Melbourne is set to be freed from its sixth lockdown at 11:59pm on Thursday, with some pubs in the city to reopen at midnight.

Mr Weimar told reporters that all Victorians, including hospitality workers, will not be allowed to leave their homes until midnight Thursday, as the city's 9pm curfew will apply until then.

However, following the press conference the state government again clarified this, saying hospitality staff can go into work after 9pm to get ready for service at midnight.

The double vaccination status for patrons does not extend to children aged under 16 though, with 12 to 15-year-olds only recently becoming eligible for vaccination.

Mr Weimar expects the state to hit 90 per cent first dose coverage on Wednesday, as 89.8 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 68.5 per cent are fully vaccinated

Victoria recorded 1841 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and one overseas acquired case on Wednesday.

Twelve people died from the virus, four women and eight men, taking the toll from this outbreak to 175.

Australian Associated Press