Western Australia has become the first Australian state to mandate vaccination against COVID-19 for all hotel, motel and workers at any facility providing accommodation services.
In a reclassification by the state government, hotel staff are being considered as an ‘Occupation deemed critical to the ongoing delivery of business and the function of the community’. This requires them to have had their first dose of a TGA-approved vaccine by 31 December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022.
The decision builds on an existing mandate which applied to workers at hotels operating as quarantine facilities. Hotel staff are one of dozens of occupations identified by the WA state government as either high-risk, those interacting with high volumes of people or those required to be fully vaccinated to perform their duties in the event of a lockdown.
The WA Government said the phased introduction of mandatory was aimed at preparing the community for an increase in transmission once borders were opened to domestic and international arrivals. The state’s current vaccination roll-out is open to all residents aged 12 and up, with nearly 60% of the population having received both jabs as of today (21 Oct).
WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said mandating vaccinations for more than half of the state’s workforce sets out a clear and safe framework for industries and workers, based on health advice.
“WA needs to be prepared for community transmission – by mandating our essential and critical workforces we can maintain services, and businesses can continue to operate safely in the long term,” Premier McGowan said.
“It’s vital people can continue working should community transmission or a lockdown occur, so that delivery of critical services is not disrupted.
“WA’s vaccination rate continues to climb, but people should not wait until the eleventh hour.”
Australian Hotels Association (WA) Chief Executive, Bradley Woods, said the state’s hospitality workforce was already rolling up their sleeves in huge numbers to ensure venues remain as safe as possible.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, WA’s hospitality owners, operators and staff have done everything possible to keep the industry open, trading and safe for patrons – vaccinations are another example of action that will help Western Australians maintain a way of life that is the envy of the world,” Woods said.
“Feedback we have received shows the overwhelming majority of WA’s hotel and hospitality workers are either vaccinated, in the process of getting vaccinated or intending on making an appointment in the near future.”
The WA Government has outlined plans to hold a variety of industry roundtable discussions to ensure questions could be answered and all senior stakeholders were clear on what was required.
Prominent hotel owner, Dr Jerry Schwartz, said earlier this year he believed all hotel workers nationwide should be fully vaccinated to ensure the safety of guests once the country returned to relative normality in terms of travel.