Victoria reports 2,179 local cases amid vaccine mandate

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate has kicked in for Victorian authorised workers, with all now needing their first dose or a scheduled booking to keep working on site.

The Victorian government gave the state’s 1.25 million authorised workers a fortnight to get at least their first coronavirus vaccination by Friday – or show proof of a booking within the next week – otherwise they would be stood down.

They must then be fully vaccinated by November 26, and there are limited medical exemptions.

When the mandate was announced, most authorised workers in the state had already been partially vaccinated but it was estimated hundreds of thousands had not.

The public health order covers retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors, professional sportspeople and many other professions.

Victoria posts a record 2,297 new COVID-19 cases

Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said “V-Day” was creating huge issues and some business were contacting it to report workers were refusing to get vaccinated.

“The workers have often been in their jobs many years, they may be key people in the business,” Mr Piper said.

“Skilled and experienced employees are at a premium and some businesses are at their wits’ end trying to decide what to do.”

 He reminded employers they must send the staff home if they don’t comply with the order, and employees are not entitled to be paid unless they agree to take any accrued annual leave or long service leave.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he made no apology for his government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates across specific industries and the entire authorised workforce.

“These mandates, these requirements, push people to do what needs to be done,” he told reporters.

Parliamentary mandate

A motion to ban unvaccinated MPs and staff from entering state parliament, an Australian-first and in line with the authorised worker mandate, passed both houses on Thursday.

A government motion passed the upper house on Thursday evening 31 votes to four, after more than two hours of fierce debate and failed amendments from the Liberal Democrats and independent MP Catherine Cumming.

All members and staff will now have to prove they’ve received at least one dose of a vaccine by Friday to continue working on site, or have an appointment booked before 22 October.

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They will also need to have their second dose by 26 November.

The motion passed the lower house on Thursday morning with the support of all but one MP, Liberal Neil Angus, who argued the requirement to show proof of the jab was “undemocratic” and “medical apartheid”.

During his speech Mr Angus cited Dr Simone Gold, who leads a group pushing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and was charged for taking part in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Mr Angus is the only MP in the Liberal party room who isn’t vaccinated, and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has conceded he won’t be able to convince him to get the jab.

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