As Victoria's "vaccinated economy" deadline approaches, some Warrnambool businesses have adapted with ease, but others are struggling for clarity amid conflicting information.
Under the changes coming on Friday, businesses in regional Victoria will be able to welcome many more customers through their doors, but only if those customers are fully vaccinated and can prove it using their phones or a physical copy of their vaccination certificate.
The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions began a trial on October 11 to test the technology and processes businesses would require to prove customer vaccination status.
The Standard asked the department if, how and when the results of the trial would be made available to Victorian businesses, but it declined to respond directly.
"The vaccinated economy trial is testing systems and processes to support businesses and individuals when we reach the 70 per cent double vaccination threshold," a spokesperson said.
"The trials are continuing and we'll have more to say in due course."
Salt Restaurant co-owner Matt McLeod said he had found adapting to the new requirements "pretty straightforward".
"Our plan is to open up to a maximum of 20 vaccinated people for indoor dining, with someone on the door checking each customer's vaccination status," he said.
Everyone in our workplace is double vaccinated anyway- Matt McLeod
Mr McLeod said the requirement for hospitality staff to be fully vaccinated by Friday hadn't caught the business out.
"Everyone in our workplace is double vaccinated anyway, which is something we feel quite strongly about," he said.
But Judi O'Brien, who owns beauty business Tir na nOg with her sister Susan, said they wouldn't be checking the vaccination status of their customers.
"Susan was just on the phone with a workplace lawyer who advised her that we don't have to check customers' vaccination status yet," she said.
"Things are changing so fast even the lawyers are struggling to keep up."
The Department of Health confirmed businesses could continue to trade without checking the vaccination status of their customers, but they would be restricted to current patron caps. For beauty businesses that would mean 10 customers at a time, rather than 30.
It is unclear whether the leeway for businesses to serve unvaccinated customers will continue in the medium term.
I hate it and I think it's bullying- Judi O'Brien
Ms O'Brien said if the rules changed she would have to exclude unvaccinated customers, but she wouldn't be happy about it.
"I hate it and I think it's bullying, but there's no choice because we simply can't afford to close our doors and walk away," she said.
Rafferty's Tavern owner Mark McIlroy told The Standard he was still trying to "seek advice and clarification" on the coming changes and had been in and out of meetings all Wednesday trying to straighten it out.
"It's a very confusing time," he said.
A number of other local businesses expressed concerns about having to police the coming rule changes, with some saying staff were not trained and equipped for potential confrontations.
Businesses in the vaccinated economy trials were each assigned a case officer to work through potential confrontation and help train staff.
The Standard asked the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions whether similar resources would be made available to the tens of thousands of Victorian businesses implementing the new rules on Friday, however it again declined to respond.
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