The Dungog Shire has become one of the first NSW local governments to declare that people using its facilities must be fully Covid-vaccinated.
In a media release this week, the Hunter Valley council said: “In order to visit some of our facilities, customers aged 16 years and over must now be able to show that they are fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccination”.
The facilities cited are the council’s administration building, the Dungog Library, the visitor information centre, the Dungog Swimming Pool, and the Clarence Town Pool.
The declaration follows new vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers introduced by the NSW government ahead of businesses in the state being allowed to reopen.
Facilities staff who believe a patron or customer is not fully vaccinated can ask that person to leave the premises if no supporting evidence is produced.
“If the person refuses to leave, you can notify police,” the rules state.
State and territory local government associations are looking at how to support a consistent approach by councils to new vaccination rules – and this week the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) held talks with the National Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce to look at ways in which councils can help boost vaccination coverage in LGAs that are lagging the rest of the country.
The federal Department of Health’s latest update on Local Government Area (LGA) geographic vaccines rates shows remote and very remote areas remain well behind metropolitan LGAs in terms of coverage.
The update shows no information at all for some remote and very remote LGAs – which the department has attributed to “the process of geocoding addresses in [these areas] leading to artificially low vaccine dose count records, as addresses cannot be pinpointed to a specific client location, and therefore LGA”.
LGAs in NSW have the highest percentage of fully vaccinated residents of any in the country, according to the update – with Sydney councils showing the way.
In the Hills Shire, nearly 92 percent of residents aged over 16 are fully vaccinated; the nearby Ku-ring-gai LGA had a double vaccination rate of 89.3 percent on 10 October.