New South Wales recently announced that it will come out of lockdown as soon as vaccination rates increase to an amount acceptable to the state government. Once lockdown ends, only the vaccinated will be able to participate in all aspects of social life. To make sure people attempting to enter social venues are vaccinated, the state government has rolled out plans to institute vaccine passports.
Several types of vaccine passports will soon be in circulation in the state, including digital and paper types. The digital version will come in the form of a smartphone app. The development of the digital vaccine passport is being handled by Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello of the state's ruling Liberal Party.
Dominello has warned unvaccinated state residents that they may face jail time if they try to enter businesses without legitimate vaccine passports. He has made the warning in an attempt to ward off unvaccinated Australians from trying to use forged vaccine passports to circumvent the restrictions that will remain in place for the unvaccinated once the state's lockdown ends.
The relevant public health order mandating the use of vaccine passports has not come out yet. But that has not stopped Dominello from warning that "fraudsters," will be held accountable for trying to rejoin the rest of society.
"If people want to do the wrong thing, if they get found out, as I said, it could be jail time there," Dominello says during an interview with ABC.
He doubles down on his desire to segregate the unvaccinated in a statement.
"Businesses and customers have a shared responsibility to comply with the rules and keep the public safe. People who create and use fake vaccine certificates will face the full force of the law and could face jail time," the statement says. "Fraud is a very serious matter and won't be tolerated. My message is clear – put the community first and get vaccinated." (Related: 6 Out of 7 new COVID-19 deaths in New South Wales were VACCINATED.)
In another interview, Dominello has tried to ease the concerns of business owners in New South Wales who think the vaccine passport mandate will turn them into vaccine police.
"What we need to do is make sure that the responsibility is primarily on the individual. Businesses, particularly small businesses, should not be de facto police officers," he says. "When people make a fuss in relation to checking in with their [digital vaccine passports], and there are people that made a fuss, it was reported to police who were there to enforce public health orders."
Dominello has previously stated that businesses need to "take reasonable steps" to make sure they comply with the mandate. He has said that those who do not follow public health directives should be punished. Current state regulations would make non-compliant business owners liable for a fine of up to AU$55,000 ($39,919).
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, many workers all over the country condemned the enforcement of COVID-19 rules, such as social distancing, mask wearing and code check-ins for contact tracing. If the state government proceeds with its plan to institute the vaccine passport, a similar backlash is expected to escalate.
Learn more about the vaccination and vaccine passport policies in Australia by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.