An urgent meeting has been called with the South Australian government following backlash over its surprise vaccine mandate deadline this week.
An urgent meeting has been called with the South Australian government following backlash over its surprise vaccine mandate deadline for drivers this week as the state border reopens.
The Transport Workers’ Union in South Australia has requested the meeting after new rules were published on Monday for drivers and public transport workers by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.
Mr Stevens has warned there could also be more to come.
The new rules mean that “point to point” drivers, like rideshare services (Uber), taxi and chauffeur drivers, need to have had at least one Covid-19 vaccination by Thursday November 25 and evidence of a booking for a second within 48 hours.
The areas affected are Adelaide Airport, Mount Gambier Airport, Parafield Airport and Port Lincoln Airport.
Mandates set for December 12 are also to come into force for passenger transport drivers “other than a point to point driver”, including bus and shuttle drivers.
A person whose work or duties relates to the provision of a passenger transport service and in the course of those duties must have at least one vaccination by 20 December. This includes if you have in-person contact with passengers of a passenger transport service (including conductors, compliance officers, security guards, booking and ticketing workers); or has in-person contact with a passenger transport driver (including depot workers).
There are some exemptions where evidence of vaccination is not required.
“We are aware they’ll be collecting international arrivals and taking them to their place of quarantine and also they’ll be collecting vulnerable people who rely heavily on that service to take them to doctors’ appointments and other services,” Mr Stevens said on Tuesday.
The Transport Worker’s Union says drivers should be paid if they are forced to take time off.
“The TWU has written to the state government expressing its extreme disappointment that key industry stakeholders were not consulted before the direction was announced,” Branch Secretary Ian Smith told the Adelaide Advertiser.
Meanwhile SA Taxi Council president John Trainer echoed the TWU’s calls and told InDaily that while the industry supports the vaccine mandate: “It would have been nice if we had been consulted weeks ago, rather than at such short notice.
“It’s been known for weeks that we were going to be lowering the border restrictions and that we’re going to have a large number of people arriving through the airport in particular who have a greater than normal chance of carrying the Covid virus,” he said.
“Drivers’ livelihoods depend on the fares that they collect. They’re a small business and if they are off the road there is no income.
“If they’re taken off the road for seven days to go into quarantine because they’re providing an essential service in the community of South Australia then they should be compensated for that loss of income.”
It comes as families and friends who were locked out for more than 100 days have begun to reunite as South Australia opens its borders to every Australian jurisdiction.
30k flock as border reopens
South Australia’s border reopened overnight with almost 30,000 Australians applying to enter the state already.
Nearly 30,000 people have so far been approved to return from NSW, Victoria and the ACT after months of being locked out.
All interstate travellers must be fully vaccinated and apply through the government’s EntryCheckSA. Unvaccinated people planning to travel to the state must apply for an exemption to travel.
Vaccination requirements apply to all people more than 12 years and 2 months of age.
The government’s website had crashed under the stress of high volumes of traffic but was up and running again by Monday evening.
Conditions of entry vary depending on your deemed risk level but range from no entry conditions other than vaccination, a Covid-19 test taken in 72 hours prior to arrival and quarantine requirements for “high risk” international visitors or domestic arrivals.