The plea comes as NSW and Victoria revealed differing plans for reopening once they have achieved national cabinet’s first vaccination target of 70 per cent.
In NSW, once the 70 per cent double-dose target has been reached, fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will be given greater freedom to indoor and outdoor activities, including access to retail and hospitality venues.
In Victoria, the 70 per cent milestone will see the fully vaccinated given access to a variety of outdoor activities and venues, such as outdoor dining and entertainment, which will still be subject to density limits. Current indoor restrictions will remain largely in place.
Mr Hunter said that while road maps were a positive development, more details were needed to provide business owners with the certainty to reopen.
“We’re aware of regional businesses which are choosing not to open now, even though they can, because the uncertainty is too great,” said Mr Hunter.
“Uncertainty creates risks that have potential costs and consequences. Each business must factor these into its decision on re-opening and how to trade.”
Some questions that CPA Australia believes state and territory governments will need to answer include whether businesses and venues will be required to deny entry or in-person services to unvaccinated people, or if businesses will be required to request evidence of a person’s vaccination status or medical exemption.
In NSW, a vaccine passport trial is set to begin on 6 October, allowing people to check into venues and provide their vaccination status on the Service NSW app.
Mr Hunter also believes business owners need certainty on whether they will be allowed to terminate or stand down employees who refused to be vaccinated.
“Governments must answer these questions,” said Mr Hunter. “They should not leave it to the private sector to muddle its way through.
“If they don’t provide answers, you’re likely to have as many different approaches as there are businesses in Australia.”
Mr Hunter has urged the state and territory governments to develop a “one stop shop of detailed roadmap answers” and expedite the flow of information.
“It’s going to take time for businesses to meet new COVID-safe and vaccination requirements and adequately train their employees. The more time they have to work through these issues, the better prepared they’ll be,” said Mr Hunter.
“One of the problems we’re seeing, which has been a systemic issue since the pandemic began, is that information is held by numerous government departments, agencies and organisations.
“Businesses are chasing their tails trying to figure out where to go for answers. This increases the likelihood that mistakes will be made and there will be compliance breaches.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.