- The NSW state government has confirmed it is pushing ahead with its revised reopening date of October 11, despite conceding the app used to verify vaccination may not be ready.
- A survey released on Thursday shows 65% of NSW residents support opening up when vaccination rates hit 70%.
- However industry and legal experts have raised concerns about the added strain on public facing businesses in being tasked with verifying the state’s current vaccination certificates.
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While the NSW government is charging ahead with its plan to reopen the state on October 11, officials have conceded its vaccination validation technology is unlikely to be fully working in time for the revised reopening date.
After vaccination rates in the state hit 70% two weeks earlier than originally anticipated and brought forward reopening plans, some industry representatives have raised concerns about how this could impact public-facing businesses.
This was initially forecast to occur on Monday, October 25, but the rapid pace of vaccinations saw this date revised to October 18 and now October 11.
The NSW government has been trying to prepare by integrating federally held vaccination certificates into the ServicesNSW app.
However the state’s digital minister Victor Dominello said on Wednesday it was unlikely to be ready on time, saying the government was “moving heaven and earth to get that ready.”
Dominello said there were other options for showing vaccination status in the meantime.
Vaccination certificates are already accessible to NSW residents but will have to be sighted by a business owner or representative until it is integrated with the federal system
“This is just to make it easier,” he said.
The app has been designed with a digital hologram to ensure it cannot be forged, and has been delayed in part by the need to access federally held databases and vaccine information.
The accelerated reopening plans come following overwhelming public support for reopening.
Video: Victorian Premier outlines roadmap out of lockdown (ABC NEWS)
A new poll released by the Sydney Morning Herald shows almost two-thirds of people in NSW support the plan to reopen when the double dose vaccination rate hits 70%.
The survey found 65% of people support opening up when vaccination rates hit 70%, with 17% of voters opposed to easing restrictions.
As of Monday, NSW’s double dose vaccination rate hit 54.2%, with the 70% target likely to be reached by October 11.
The number of first doses has reached 83%
NSW Premier Glady Berejiklian said the state was pushing ahead with its current roadmap, “which we expect we will start implementing very excitingly somewhere in the middle of October.
“And then obviously, the next step after that is what is required at 80% double dose vaccination.”
In response, some industry groups have raised concerns about how interactions between members of the public and publicly facing businesses might play out.
Wes Lambert, chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia, told The Australian a new set of public health orders would be required to give businesses certainty around the rules of the vaccine passport system.
“The hospitality industry needs the public health orders to be released as a matter of urgency so that businesses understand the mechanisms and the requirements around the QR code and the sighting of vaccination certificates,” he said.
Businesses are navigating a legal framework that “wasn’t designed for dealing with a pandemic”, Amy Zhang, executive counsel at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, told Business Insider Australia.
Zhang said businesses were already contacting the firm with questions around their responsibilities while planning to reopen.
“At the moment, there’s not a lot of detail from the government as to how that’s all going to work, and what exactly will be required of businesses,” Zhang said.
Reports have indicated that public health orders are being drafted and likely to be released by October 1.
A trial of the app will begin on October 6 in regional areas of NSW, with Sydney to be excluded because of concerns that reopened venues could attract crowds.Internet Explorer Channel Network