Businesses across the region are grappling with the Victorian government's new rules that mean COVID-19 vaccinations are mandatory for all essential workers.
The vaccine mandate announced Friday, October 1, applies to essential workers in metro Melbourne and regional Victoria, with a deadline of October 15 to continue working on site.
Full vaccination will be required by November 26, although the deadlines do not apply to workers who already have existing requirements under CHO directions.
Sectors such as construction, freight, healthcare, aged care and education have previous advice to comply with.
While some businesses are grappling with the choices, others are accepting of the move.
Simon Jones, whose family runs both the Stawell and Ararat Mitre 10s, said the mandate is good if it helps people feel safe.
"It's a good thing for our workforce in our town and our state overall," he said.
"I know there's some opposition to it, but in general I think it makes most people feel more safe."
The change came as Victoria's COVID-19 cases continued to rise, reaching a national record in 1965 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm of Friday, October 8.
"Whether it was necessary to do now, whether the push was needed, but I think it's pushed some people across the line (into getting vaccinated)," Mr Jones said.
Got a story to share? Get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Jones said the mandate would not particularly affect his businesses.
"It's probably a little irrelevant for our business because over 90 per cent of our eligible staff are first dosed anyway, and over 85 per cent are double dosed.
"Our staff had been onboard from the start."
However, Mr Jones said he saw the positives that might come from the new regulations.
"I think it probably some people over the line to get vaccinated who were sitting on the fence."
As a hardware store, Mr Jones' business was unique in being an essential worker and catering mainly to essential workers - something Mr Jones said his team keeps an eye on.
"We speak to the tradies a lot... most of them in our area have already been vaccinated," he said.
"Tradies in our area in general are very, very happy to be vaccinated and getting on with their jobs, having a normal life."
Despite this, Mr Jones added that making vaccinations mandatory might have the effect of amplifying the voices of those against vaccines.
"There are going to probably be people who get their back up over being forced to, or mandated to vaccinate,
"They are the ones that are going to jump up and down and cause issues; without the mandate, maybe we could have got to, particularly in our area, 80 per cent double doses comfortably anyway.
"That's where I think the complications are, and it might bring those who oppose vaccination into the open, giving them a stronger voice in a way."
Western Vic Business's Stacey Taig said there was a level of expectation within many industries that a mandate of this kind would occur.
"There was already an expectation, certainly if you were working within those essential industries, there's an expectation that you would be moving towards being vaccinated," she said.
Ms Taig said without formal legislation in parliament supporting the mandate, it put the onus unfairly on business owners to hold their staff to account.
"For businesses that's where it becomes a little bit more confusing because there's so many variables from a legislative perspective; questions such as whether your vaccination status is protected under the equal opportunity act."
"People are very passionate about this one way or the other and their right to choose.... it's not a political belief as such, but that doesn't mean that someone can't pursue legal action."
"There's no clear definition, so there's a lot of uncertainty and ideally that the government would have looked at the legislature before implementing these sort of requirements."
The mandate also puts pressure emotionally on business owners who may have to fire long-time employees over differences of opinion.
"If someone feels strongly enough about it, and you've got an employee that's worked for you for 25 years, and you have to say, 'sorry, I have to let you go because you won't get vaccinated...' that's a hard call for a business owner to make," Ms Taig said.
"As a business owner, you're being placed in a really difficult, difficult position."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: