Melbourne out of lockdown, industry hopes for good

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Melbourne has come out of its fourth lockdown, with print businesses and everyone else hoping this is the final one, although few are betting against more coming.

Coronavirus: Print impacted
Coronavirus: Print impacted

While print and packaging businesses have been able to carry on manufacturing the disruption has been immense, with major print markets of retail, tourism, events and education smashed by the ongoing lockdowns. In addition, all but essential production staff have had to work from home, and client visits have been off the table.

Victorian printers have had to endure the state being locked down for four times as long as neighbouring NSW, despite receiving less than a quarter of overseas arrivals – the main source of Covid flare-ups.

The Australian vaccine rollout is now underway. So far, about 20 per cent of the population has had at least one shot. There is no indication yet of what percentage of the population will need it before the border shackles come off, or before vaccinated people are exempt from lockdowns, but federal Liberal backbenchers are making it clear to the government that policy cannot be dictated by anti-vaxxers.

The Real Media Collective advises that businesses can now incentivise staff to receive the vaccine, subject to strict guidelines.

In a bid to overcome Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in the community and increase their uptake, regulations have now been relaxed so as to permit businesses to promote and reward employees who have received both doses of a government approved Covid vaccine.

“Lockdowns, restrictions and unease across the community impacts us all. If as industry leaders we can provide a work environment that supports individuals to be vaccinated, then we should lead as employers to do so. Understanding how we can achieve this level of support for our businesses and broader industry is critical as we move to a new Covid normal. The Collective is proud to provide a clear advisory guide for our members in this regard,” said Kellie Northwood, CEO, The Real Media Collective.

The regularity authority of the Department of Health, the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), has released guidelines that allow businesses to develop their own promotional materials about TGA approved Covid-19 vaccines.

Businesses can now supplement government public health campaigns through offers of practical support and rewards that encourage Australians to be vaccinated. Under the new arrangements, organisations can generate their own informational materials to support Covid-19 vaccination, provided the content is consistent with government messaging, and does not contain:

  • References to specific brands of vaccines, or compare different Covid-19 vaccines;
  • Statements that Covid-19 vaccines cannot cause harm or have no side effects;
  • Any statement that is false or misleading; and
  • Promotion of any vaccine that has not been approved by the TGA.

Additionally, the relaxations also permit offering a range of rewards to people who have been fully vaccinated under the government's Covid-19 vaccination program. Such rewards can be monetary or, for example, include paid time of work to receive a vaccination, pay for a taxi or Uber to attend the vaccination, as well as gift vouchers and discounts.

However, such rewards cannot include alcohol, tobacco or medicines (other than listed medicines). Further, any offer of a reward cannot be restricted to only those who have a vaccination after the reward has been announced. Any rewards offered must be made available to those who have already commenced their vaccination schedule.

TRMC says members should consider offering clients assistance with the creation, provision and distribution of related promotional materials for their businesses. However, TRMC recommends questioning clients as to their compliance with the TGA requirements (outlined above) in those materials and campaigns.

“Should members wish to implement such promotions and or rewards in their own workplaces, care should be taken so as to comply with the outlined requirements and be factual, and ensure those employees who chose not to be vaccinated are not criticised or discriminated against for their decision,” concluded Northwood.

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