It's early days, but so far, New England and the North West residents have complied with the new COVID-19 roadmap double vaccination rules as best as they know how.
The 'Roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions' states from October 11, those who have not been fully vaccinated, and don't have an exemption, will be barred from entering all non-essential businesses - as though they were in a hard lockdown again.
Although social media is awash with comments of frustration and confusion regarding the new rules, New England Police District Chief Inspector David Cooper said there had been no incidents and the focus of the police would be on educating the community about what is required.
"I've been in all the morning briefings, and there have been no issues," Ch/Insp Cooper said.
"And I watched someone in an Armidale cafe be asked for proof of vaccination, and when they couldn't produce it, they left without argument.
"The state police commissioner has said that police can be called out to enforce the new rules, but in New England, we would like to continue down an educational path as much as possible," he said.
Ch/Insp David Cooper said $1000 on-the-spot fines for individuals might apply, and police will be responsible for issuing them, but they would prefer people to do the right thing, get vaccinated, scan QR codes, and show proof where required.
"There is also an on-the-spot fine of $5000 for businesses not complying with the public health order requirements," he said. "And businesses are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people from entering their premises."
According to NSW Government COVID-19 business rules, 'reasonable steps' include installing signage, providing QR codes, checking customer vaccination status upon entry, and only accepting valid documentation as proof.
"From the police point of view, we would like to rely on people's goodwill to comply with the rules, but if that turns into an issue, then we can be called on to assist," Ch/Insp Cooper said.
"The last thing we want to do is hit our small businesses with a $5000 fine because someone walks in and does the wrong thing.
"We don't want to smack our local businesses too hard."
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