Warrnambool City Council has welcomed the opportunity to be involved in a trial to progressively reopen a “vaccinated economy”.
The trial, to be conducted by the Victorian Government, will see businesses and events across highly vaccinated parts of regional Victoria re-open to help the state progressively move towards a vaccinated economy once key double-dose vaccination thresholds are reached.
Up to 20 vaccinated economy trials will test systems and support in the fortnight before Victoria is aiming to reach the key 70 per cent full vaccination mark on 26 October, triggering greater freedoms for vaccinated people.
“This is tremendous news for our economy and feels like a great reward for the effort that Warrnambool people have made over the past 18 months,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Vicki Jellie said.
Scheduled to start from October 11, it is anticipated the trials will cover hospitality, hairdressing, beauty services and tourism businesses, and events such as race meetings, community celebrations and concerts – allowing higher patron numbers with all attendees confirmed as being fully vaccinated.
Other municipalities to be part of the trial – all with high vaccination rates and low or no COVID-19 cases – include Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, Pyrenees, Buloke and East Gippsland.
Council Chief Executive Officer Peter Schneider said Council would work closely with the Victorian Government and relevant industry bodies to help identify suitable businesses and events for the fact-finding exercises.
“Our high vaccination rate has put us in a favourable position and we look forward to being involved in the trial,” Mr Schneider said.
“For business owners who are interested in being a part of the trial, there is checklist to work through.
“And they need to have the support of their representative peak body such as the Australian Hotels Association or the Australian Retailers Association.
“The journey beyond COVID-19 will be a slow and steady one.
“It began with lockdowns, continued with vaccinations and now we are preparing to take a really important step into what will be vibrant post-COVID economy.
“The timing, ahead of summer, is a real positive for our city.
“We will keep the community informed as we learn more details about the trial.”
The Victorian Government has said the trials will be subject to health advice and ensuring the safety of regional communities from any potential COVID-19 infections.
Training for staff, supports for business owners and public communication of vaccine requirements will also be part of the trials. Support officers will be deployed on the ground to ensure trials run smoothly and participating businesses receive the assistance they need.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said getting vaccinated has never been more important.
“It reduces the risks to you and your family of serious illness from COVID-19 and it allows greater freedoms for all Victorians as we re-open together,” Mr Andrews said.
“These trials are an important step as we move towards a vaccinated economy, supporting businesses to open safely and recover strongly and individuals to play their very important part.”
Victorian Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson said the state was working with the Commonwealth to make sure the technology and systems that will underpin the vaccinated economy were effective and easy to use.
“The Service Victoria app will be the most convenient way for most people to prove their vaccination status and participate fully in the community,” Mr Pearson said.