Hospitality industry leaders and Moreton Bay Regional Council have urged people not to abuse staff at restaurants, cafes and other venues when new COVID-19 rules come into effect on Friday.
The rules stipulate that from December 17 unvaccinated people will not be allowed to visit a range of venues, including cafes, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas and State Government-owned galleries and libraries.
Already, café and restaurant operators across the Moreton Bay Region have been subjected to a barrage of personal abuse on social media for posts outlining their obligation to adhere to the new rules.
Mayor Peter Flannery is appalled to hear of abuse occurring in local venues.
“Most offensive is that this is happening at Christmas, a time for kindness and understanding,” he says.
“I think we’ve all been through enough over the past 12 months and it’s time for the community to come together as we adjust to a ‘new normal’, because the virus will soon be spreading in our community, which will create an understandable level of anxiety.
“This is a health directive and we should all follow it, just as we already follow health directions when it comes to where people can and can’t smoke, for the benefit of the greater community’s health.”
Restaurant and Catering Industry Association chief executive officer Wes Lambert says while venue operators and staff don’t have a choice, patrons do.
“Having a liquor licence or a food licence is a privilege and the laws have to be followed,” Mr Lambert says.
“Businesses don’t get to pick and choose which laws they follow
“They (owners) are required to follow the law, but you as a consumer have a choice as to whether you abuse them or not,” Mr Lambert says.
“What good is it going to do you to make a scene at the front of the venue?”
The State Government has launched the Be Kind at Check In Time campaign ahead of the changes, asking everyone to show respect for workers when they are asked to show proof of vaccination.
State Health Minister and Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath says venues will be required to take all reasonable steps to comply with the Public Health and Social Measures Direction.
“That means hospitality and entertainment venues will be asking customers for proof of vaccination as they enter the premises or when they order,” Minister D’Ath says.
“I appreciate the commitment of many businesses that have gone above and beyond to assist Queensland’s response to COVID-19 – and now it’s our turn to support those business and their staff.
“Their actions have contributed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our community and allowed Queensland to reopen its borders and relax restrictions on businesses.”
Employment and Small Business Minister Di Farmer says small businesses have borne the brunt of COVID-19 restrictions and in allowing them to operate at full capacity fully vaccinated patrons and staff is an important step.
“When you are asked to show proof of vaccination, please remember that businesses owners and staff are simply doing their job,” Ms Farmer says.
“If you are anti-vaccination, that is your choice, but it does not give you the right to abuse those working hard to keep Queenslanders safe.”
Mayor Flannery says Council staff have also been abused by the public after Council announced it would adhere to any Queensland Health directives around COVID-19 vaccination.
“I know some Council staff have been targeted and abused by people in the street just while wearing their uniform to get their lunch,” he says.
“That won’t be tolerated by police or security, nor our community.
“These people are your public servants - the librarians and maintenance crews and waste managers who work every day to make Moreton Bay a more vibrant, cleaner, healthier place to live.
“So please don’t stand by if you see them being treated unfairly, everyone working over the Christmas break deserves our respect and support, especially the hospitality and retail staff who’ll be working hard at a very unusual time to make this Christmas special for us all.
“Basically, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”