Abusive customers to face hefty fines once vaccine mandates begin

Customers who abuse staff at pubs and restaurants will face huge penalties amid fears from businesses that unvaccinated patrons may lash out at workers when the mandates begin next week.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath formally released the Public Health Directives for vaccination mandates in hospitals, schools, child care centres, prisons and numerous hospitality and retail venues.

It means high-risk businesses including bars, restaurants, pubs and entertainment facilities must have staff fully vaccinated by December 17 and patrons will need to be vaccinated in order to attend.


Queensland Government-owned facilities will also require visitors to be vaccinated.

The offence of deliberately spitting, coughing or sneezing on workers will be extended, after it was initially introduced in April 2020.

“We have a responsibility to protect them,” she said.

Offenders could receive a $1378 on-the-spot fine or up to $13,000 and six months’ jail if convicted in court.

“This is the law,” Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said.

“Businesses will be required to display the new rules to help inform customers.

“It is up to business operators to actually check that the patrons meet these requirements.

“It is incredibly important that not only the patrons but the businesses and the community does the right thing.

“If businesses are experiencing difficult customers who refuse to comply with these rules, ask them to leave the premises and call the police if need be.”

Small Business Minister Di Farmer said the government would be releasing a “support package” to help businesses understand and adapt to the changes.

“We have put together a package of support measures just to help them get through these early days,” Minister Farmer said.

“The first of those will be very clear signage, which will indicate to patrons as they enter the premises, whether this is a business that requires people to be fully vaccinated or whether they do not.

“You will see the big green tick.

“We also know that businesses have quite a few questions about how they support their staff and their patrons.

“There are extensive Q&A responses on the COVID website, we will keep adding to those as businesses ask us further questions or new scenarios arrive.”

The government is also offering a free course to workers to learn how to de-escalate confrontational people after the mandate comes into effect.

“We’ll offer a very short training course that TAFE has put together on how to de-escalate aggressive behaviour,” Ms Farmer said.

“But also how to deal with a range of other issues that might come up in this new scenario.

“We put together a similar course when COVID first hit and over 250,000 have since completed that course.

“We’re seeing the same level of take-up for this course as well.”

The state will also launch a “be kind” campaign in a bid to support staff.