There are fears Victoria’s food supply chain and other critical sectors may be placed under extreme pressure as a result of Covid booster mandates that have just come into effect.
The state last month extended the third-dose jab requirements for health workers amid concern tens of thousands of workers would be stood down because they hadn’t been able to get the booster.
Now emergency services sectors and crucial supply chains are staring down similar issues.
A third dose mandate came into effect on Saturday for workers in the disability and aged care, emergency services, prisons, and food processing and distribution sectors.
Industry insiders say the mandates have disrupted the food sectors, while there is concern the state’s emergency services may be impacted.
Opposition police spokesman Brad Battin said police and firefighters had already been struggling to get back to work as a result of the mandate.
“We’ve heard from individuals who are struggling as far as trying to get back to work or will be required to stand down, whether it’s for a short or longer period of time because they couldn’t get the vaccine in time,” he said.
“There will be some caught out because of timing and I think the government needs to be upfront about how many won’t be available because it will increase pressure on the already heard-working emergency services.”
Despite the deadline for boosters lapsing for tens of thousands of workers on Saturday, the Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group Tim Piper said there remained some confusion among businesses about who needed to be covered.
He said this applied to the gray area between food manufacturing and distribution, and that there was also concern about slower uptake of jabs among these sectors.
“While everyone accepted they needed to have the second jab, getting people to have a third jab is much more problematic,” Mr Piper said.
“It could cause supply chain issues, particularly in manufacturing and distribution.”
Opposition ports and freight spokeswoman Roma Britnell said there had already been supply chain issues in logistics industries sparked by double-jab mandates.
“This third jab mandate will make things worse, but it’s already critical for these industries now,” she said.
The state coalition has called for the removal of mandates in favor of vaccination education campaigns, calling the mandates “unsustainable”.
Just over 62 per cent of Victorians have received their booster shot.
Teachers and childhood educators have until March 25 to get the jab, and healthcare workers until March 29.
Mr Battin on Sunday again called for the mandates to be scrapped.
“We’ll support it in health and aged care, but as a general rule we think the third mandate must go,” he said.
“We need to make sure we can get people back to work, we need to make sure we can get people back into recover our economy and rebuild for the future, that is essential for not just those out in the community but all across the city .
“We’re seeing too many places that can’t get staff in to fill the hours let alone just the customers coming through the doors at the moment.”
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