Businesses take vaccine checks in their stride

The Snowy Valleys’ first week of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination check-ins for most businesses has been running smoothly, according to most business owners.

While the process has been straightforward, it hasn’t been easy for businesses. Robyn Veneer Sweeney of Batlow’s art gallery b: Atelier said the requirements were too difficult for her to be able to maintain, so she’s instead chosen to close her doors until the state reopens to both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents.

“I would literally have to sit at the front door all day,” she said. 

“I also have a little bit of an issue with being a security guard.”

Instead, the Batlow artist said she will be taking some time at the studio to focus on her own art.

She said she’s grateful she doesn’t face the financial pressure of having to be open every day in order to cover the gallery’s costs.

“I don’t have that pressure on me. I do feel sorry for people who have feelings as I do [about policing the vaccination check-ins] and who might be in a similar situation who have to open, because they have to make their income,” she said.

“I’m very lucky that I can choose to make that decision.”

The gallery owner said she’s not closing out of opposition to the new requirements, but rather for practical reasons. With very few tourists in town – but numbers expected to rise once Sydneysiders are again allowed to travel to the regions – she said it made more sense to sit back and watch how things pan out.

“I just thought, ‘I’m not prepared to sit and twiddle my thumbs by the door waiting for people who might come through.’

“I think it’s a big ask and obviously some people are prepared to do it, but there are other retailers and hospitality businesses who have made the decision not to.”

In Tumut, Aura Hair Beauty and Wellness owner Tina Allen said a handful of customers had been frustrated with the new check-in requirements, but most were understanding.

“It’s been good. Most people have got their vaccination proof handy when they come through the door, so it’s nice to be able so see that visual quickly, which makes it easier for us to do our sign in and then people do the QR code to come through the salon,” she said.

Mrs Allen estimated it takes between 1-10 minutes per customer to check and log vaccination details.

“Occasionally you might get older members of the community that struggle with the app so we have to assist them with getting the proof up, or if they’re struggling [then they need to] get something from their doctor,” she explained.

“We have had a couple of customers that have been a little bit miffed about the fact that they have to provide the proof and they’re a bit disappointed it’s come to this, and we’re understanding of that, but most people understand to have these services we have to have that.”

Mrs Allen said that her unvaccinated clients seemed to have understood what was coming and booked in ahead of the new requirements which came into effect this week. The others – even though they’re frustrated – have all been vaccinated.

During the three weeks after lockdown, we were so busy it was like Christmas time. It was hectic. There were a lot of people that knew that the vaccination was going to be required, so they came in before.

“Now, those people are off until Christmas. 

“This week it has quietened down slightly and I think that’s the reason.”

To smooth the process, Mrs Allen said she’d prefer to see Covid-19 vaccination records integrated into the existing ServiceNSW check-in app, “so that when people sign in with the QR code, it automatically registers whether they’re vaccinated or not.”

That technology is currently being trialled in locations across NSW, including at several businesses in Wagga.

In the meantime, Mrs Allen said she and her staff are “just happy to see people come back in.”

“We just want to keep things pumping along as usual… we do what we have to, to keep the doors open, and we’re just happy to be serving people.”