Check-in mandates cause misery for cafes

By Mitch Gaynor

A HINTERLAND hospitality veteran has revealed the daily verbal and physical abuse she has endured because her small business is forced to comply with state government-mandated check-in rules.

Shotgun Espresso owner Kelly Robson who has lost staff and significant revenue in the past two years said the situation was now “untenable”.

The hospitality sector is one of only a few industries where check-in and vaccination verification rules still apply.

But Kelly said the messaging was confusing and raised stress levels for people who thought that check-ins were behind us.

“Since the 17th December this has been a nightmare. It can only be described as abuse from our Government. We have been utterly neglected,” the Maleny café owner said.

Kelly is not anti-vaccination, but is urging an even playing field for all business.

She said her ask of the Government was simple: “Stop policing us and remove the scanning.”

“To only single us out, but not a supermarket, bank or hotel, where you can crowd in, is just wrong.”

 “It’s become a battlefield, it’s ridiculous. And worse, it’s not doing anything.”

Kelly said her sector was essentially being used by the Government to ensure the unvaccinated stayed away from public places.

“Our sector is being used against our wishes and at our expense, it’s our shout, so the government can punish those who choose not to be vaccinated,” she said.

“You cannot tell us otherwise. That data is not being used by the scan ins. So what is the point? That’s such a next level of abuse.”

Glass House state MP Andrew Powell said the situation for the hospitality sector was unacceptable.

“The stress and strain, the abuse, that café owners and staff have had to bear is unreasonable,” he said.

“It’s wrong. Sure, other states had similar restrictions, but they set end dates (or vaccination targets) well in advance so business owners could plan for the future.  And other states have provided support packages to impacted businesses.”

Mr Powell said he was pro vaccination and encouraged people to be vaccinated, but added he understood and respected that for some this is medically not possible and for others not desirable.

“With more than 90% of the Queensland population double vaxxed, I have struggled to understand why the Palaszczuk Government continues to single out our pubs, clubs, cafes and wedding venues when it comes to vaccination restrictions and Check-in Apps,” he said.

“We have no medical explanation why they are being singled out.”

Mr Powell said he was continuing to advocate for small and family businesses including targeted grants, sick leave and electricity or water rebates.

“For many businesses who’ve been fighting for two years to stay afloat, a support package will be the difference between whether they survive or not.”

A spokesperson for the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said no abuse is acceptable and “staff should call police as the commissioner has advised”.

Asked if the Government was considering scrapping the demand on the hospitality sector, he said: “Measures like these have helped Queensland manage the current outbreak much better than initially projected encouraging us to be cautiously optimistic that the peak of the wave has passed and cases are trending down.”

Ms Robson said the suggestion to contact police meant the Premier had not “grasp” on what the mandate looked like on the ground.

“I do not have the time nor the means to have the police on speed dial to deal with the outright verbal/physical abuse to the constant defiance and passive aggressive abuse from people,” she said.

There was no response from the Premier’s office to questions about financial compensation for businesses.