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Human rights or last rites - why those refusing the jab must cop the consequences

Opinion

There will be plenty of challenges to the State Government’s plan to ring-fence those who refuse to be vaccinated – but the logic is clear-cut, writes Madonna King

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Every decision we make has a consequence.

You study – and you have a better chance of passing an exam.

You drink and drive – and you risk getting caught. Or even worse, killing someone.

The COVID19 vaccine is no different. The unvaccinated are entitled to remain jab-free – but the consequence might be that they will need to eat, drink and socialise at home.

This is not the flu. This is a virus that has killed more than five million people; a highly contagious disease that can jump 1.5 metres, and be passed onto someone, simply by walking down a street.

As we’ve seen elsewhere in the world, vulnerable populations need to be protected. And that can only happen if we think beyond ourselves, to the community we share.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and the State Government’s decision to ban unvaccinated patrons, staff and even owners of businesses from pubs, clubs and restaurants is spot-on.

It shouldn’t be seen as a reward for the vaccinated, any more than it is a punishment for the unvaccinated.

It is simply an important next step to living with COVID19, while protecting as many people as we can.

Of course, it goes further than that. Such a move might boost our ailing businesses and provide a dash of hope for tourist operators.

But that is a secondary issue. The most important issue here is one of human rights.

Is our our human right not to be vaccinated and to sit in a cafe, passing on this virus to someone else?

Or is it our human right to visit a restaurant, fully vaccinated, in the knowledge that co-patrons have also been protected by a jab?

The latter here should win, in any assessment. The collective right is more important than an individual right – because the consequence of allowing unvaccinated patrons to roam public places is to guarantee a greater number of deaths.

Despite the way it is being painted, this move by the Palaszczuk Government is not heavy-handed. In Singapore, for example, unvaccinated patients will soon be required to pay their own medical expenses relating to the virus.

The Queensland move is no different to some countries demanding tourists be double-vaxxed – and we should demand the same of incoming tourists too.

We should also be ensuring that this rule or law or order or whatever it becomes fans out beyond pubs and clubs and restaurants and cafes.

Why should you be able to go to a gym, if not double-vaccinated?

What about schools and universities and TAFE colleges? For the sake of the majority, surely it should be a case of no jab, no entry.

Do you want your children heading off to school each day, knowing half their class is unvaccinated? Maybe you might think differently, if you have a two-year-old or an 82-year-old, living with you at home.

The Government’s decision will be tested, and some businesses are already flagging that – but let’s hope commonsense and a community-mindedness wins out here.

The only exception should be for those who cannot get the vaccine – because of illness or opportunity. And in those cases, perhaps they should be required to take a test, before going out to dinner.

What’s tricky here is not the planned rule. It’s how it will work – and that’s where the Government needs to set its focus.

Why don’t these restrictions umbrella other group-gatherings?

Should it be flexible enough to operate differently in the regions?

How will we safeguard against a community bunfight between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated?

Is it fair that police resources will be used to enforce this? That sounds like a free jail pass for crime.

And how might that work? A small business demands someone show their vaccination proof. They refuse. Police are called. How long before they might show up? And should our business be put in the position of policing this?

What is the impact of employers laying off unvaccinated staff?

There are many questions that need to be addressed here, but irrespective of that, there’s only one answer.

And that is to lock out those who refuse to protect others; those who simply will not be vaccinated.

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