Truckies who enter Victoria after being in high-risk Covid areas have been given just two weeks notice to get their first jab before tightened border restrictions kick in.
The Victorian Government has today announced mandatory vaccinations for freight and healthcare workers entering Victoria under specified multiple entry work permits.
That means that from September 23, transport operators and drivers entering Victoria from NSW will need to be able to show evidence that they have had at least their first jab.
“Due to the risk that continues to be posed by the movement of the virus across NSW, and what that poses to a number of states including Victoria, we are further tightening the border requirement restrictions as they apply to specified worker groups for multiple entry permits,” Health Minister Martin Foley said today, adding that the Covid-19 digital certificate will be one of the preferred methods to use as proof of vaccination status.
But the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has slammed the short window freight workers have been given before these new requirements begin.
“Providing two weeks’ notice for these transport workers to obtain a first vaccination is just not good enough and shows a massive disrespect by the government to the people who provide a vital service to the Victorian community. It provides no recognition of the challenges drivers who regularly travel in and out of Covid hotspots face when it comes to getting vaccinated and even seeking basic medical attention,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.
“The Victorian Transport Association anticipated vaccinations would be required for interstate transport workers to enter Victoria last week, outlining a series of steps the Victorian Government should take to help our industry get access to vaccines,” Anderson added.
“These included prioritising road transport workers as essential for vaccination, introducing vaccination hubs at Covid testing sites, truck rest stops and locations drivers frequent while carrying out their work, and rewarding vaccinated drivers with less onerous COVID testing.
“Despite numerous meetings and conversations with the government where we outlined a common-sense path towards mandatory vaccinations – should that be the direction taken – we are extremely disappointed our advice was mostly ignored and not acknowledged in the process.”
Anderson also warned that the short notice provided by the Victorian Government also puts the supply chain at risk of disruption too.
“Consumers in Victoria and around Australia should not be surprised with shortages of fresh food, groceries, medicine and other goods as a direct consequence of insufficient notice of yet another new requirement,” he said.
“Just as the transport industry has complied with every rule and regulation introduced, we will do our very best to meet with this new requirement. The VTA will continue to advocate for members and the freight and logistics industry, whilst strongly encouraging governments to do more to help transport workers get vaccinated.”