COUNCILLORS, guests and staff have been able to enjoy dine-in meals together at council civic centres without having to provide proof of vaccination.
While the rest of WA has been forced to fumble with phones to prove their vaccination status before sitting down in a cafe or restaurant, the Voice has confirmed that a “loophole” in the McGowan government’s restrictions means this hasn’t applied to council dining rooms or lounges.
Some restaurants and bars have reported struggling with the extra workload required to vaccine-check each patron, while some staff have been assaulted dealing with mandate malcontents.
But the Voice got a tip this week claiming no vaccine checks were being carried out at Stirling council’s dining room, where councillors and staff gather for a meal and refreshments on meeting nights. It’s a similar story at other councils that still operate dining rooms.
Our tipster, who didn’t give a name, claimed “while I have no issues with the dinner side of things, I’m told they are not requiring proof of vaccination to eat and drink there”.
They were right.
We put the query to Stirling mayor Mark Irwin, who responded via email through the council’s PR department.
Mr Irwin said they’ve stuck to all state government health mandates including requesting proof of vaccination and mask mandates at council facilities. But the civic centre’s exempt.
“In relation to the City’s civic centre, there is no requirement for the City to request proof of vaccination from members of the public, employees or elected members,” Mr Irwin said.
“The requirement to request proof of vaccination at venues providing food and beverages applies when food and beverages are being sold and consumed on premise. The City does not sell food and beverage at its civic centre, therefore checking vaccination status is not required under the state government’s proof of vaccination requirements.”
Our unnamed correspondent described that as a “loophole”: “From an outsider looking in they should be follow the rules just like everyone else considering state Parliament requires this of all politicians. This definitely would not stand up to public scrutiny.”
We’d also asked Mr Irwin if councillor vaccine status was checked at another entry point or at other times, and he said “there are no specific requirements or mandates that apply to elected members in the conduct of their role”.
At Bayswater, too, acting CEO Des Abel tells us vaccine proof requirements don’t apply since the lounge and dining areas are not a “hospitality venue, restaurant, caf√©, dine in fast food store or other place of business selling prepared food or drinks for consumption at the place”, the definition given by the state government’s directions.
It’s the same story at Vincent council’s function room, although mayor Emma Cole adds “all Vincent council members are triple vaccinated and we are currently running hybrid meetings, so far with up to three council members and minimal staff in-person” and others zooming in.
Perth council’s dining room has been closed since 2018 due to historic overuse by some previous councillors.
We checked with some other metropolitan councils and found the same story.
“At the moment elected members are not required to show proof of vaccination at pre-council meeting briefings where dinner is served, although they are encouraged to do so,” Cockburn council governance executive Emma Milne said.
“This is in keeping with the state government direction. If the state enters a lockdown this will change.”
Fremantle council was a little more vague, with its PR department saying: “We do not request to see elected members‚Äô vaccination certificates before they eat. We follow the requirements outlined by the state government for entry to the building/meeting.”
by DAVID BELL