Any person who is over 16 years of age and who is not fully vaccinated with the provisionally approved COVID-19 vaccine has been excluded from many NSW businesses this week.
Despite our regional areas having limited to no COVID-19 cases and willing uptakes exceeding 80% in LGAs like Murray River Council, the state government pushed forward to rip the last shreds of medical sovereignty from people living in our supposed democracy.
The mandates have turned friends into enforcers and loyal customers into the unclean, and in turn, the unwelcome. Ironically, many of these customers were the loyal souls who supported these businesses during the tyrannical lockdowns and border closures.
Julie Swingler of the Royal Hotel Barham was one such owner who was forced to comply with the segregation, with threats of large government fines.
“It’s been pretty bad,” said Julie. “We have a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated. I find it’s discriminatory and wrong. It’s hard. Your hands are tied.
“We’ve been advised by AHA (the Australian Hotels Association) that with the current health orders we have to [comply], or it’s big fines.”
Phil Flisher from the Barham Hotel was also impacted.
“We may as well not be open,” said Phil. “We are pretty much empty during the day. A lot of our regulars do not qualify. We may have to change operating hours.
“It’s not something we need, we are being penalised again. It has the potential to be very nasty.”
Member for Murray, Helen Dalton, was also appalled.
“It’s an absolutely ridiculous situation. The new premier was having beers in Sydney celebrating what he called ‘Freedom Day.’ At the same time, he stripped freedoms from regional NSW and is devastating local businesses.
“Worse still, they did a terrible job letting people know about the changes.
“There was just no need for this at all. Most of our towns have zero COVID-19 cases.
“A much better option would be to restrict travel from Sydney and let us continue as normal, with businesses free to accept any customers.
“NSW Parliament is finally resuming today and I’ll be taking it up with the NSW Government.”
The irony of all these mandates is that the clean and unclean can mingle in one shop like the supermarket, bank or bakery – but not at the pub, café or clothes store…
Who knew COVID-19 was so selective to locality… I would have presumed it was like the infections – infecting both the clean and unclean.
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 14 October 2021.