As peak summer tourist season looms, numerous hospitality providers across the region are struggling with incoming COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Staffing, as well as policing stringent check-in and hygiene controls, are troubling operators, from well-known venues through to the tour industry. The Margaret River Chamber of Commerce has flagged its concerns as well, coming on the heels of a regional WA survey which found many businesses could be undone by the difficult requirements, with more guidance requested from the State Government. “The chamber is concerned by the number of businesses that are reporting staff losses due to mandates,” chamber executive officer Annie McVie told the Times. “Many businesses are not able to operate at full capacity due to limited staff. “We are urging locals and visitors to show patience and kindness. Our businesses are operating under huge pressure and doing their level best to continue operating.” Wine For Dudes manager Kristy Drummond said her team was pro-vaccination, but had lost workers unwilling to get the COVID-19 jab, causing an estimated 35 per cent loss of revenue for the tour company. Other businesses said they feared they would have to reduce opening hours and availability because of the challenges around mandatory vaccination and, in a letter to the chamber, asked for more direct consultation with the Government. “The flow-on does not impact the unvaccinated, it directly impacts the vaccinated, and will result in the closure of businesses, higher unemployment, and a significant deficit to the economy,” Ms Drummond said. “There are no winners. “This is an extremely difficult position for us to be put in, and unfair, as vaccinated business owners and managers to bear the brunt of the mandate.” Brewhouse Margaret River co-owner Iliya Hastings said his business had to stay nimble, which included headhunting good workers, even from up north. “At this point, we are working closely with our staff on the mandatory vax issue,” he said. “It’s a difficult time for some of them as individuals, and tricky for us as a business, with a busy summer impending.” Mr Hastings anticipated “marginal” effects on his business, with most of his remaining workforce now having had at least one dose of the vaccine. Veteran business adviser Barbara Maidment said workforce challenges were only one of the issues, with threats of a $100,000 non-compliance fine for businesses “over the top”. “It’s costing time and staff, as staff have made it clear they are not the vaccine and social-distancing police,” Dr Maidment said. “And it’s causing considerable angst because operators are unsure about the enforcement aspects of these new mandates. “It seems that just as we get used to some ‘rules’, new ones are brought in and it all rests on the shoulders of the business.” Ms Drummond said businesses needed greater evidence for the legality of the mandatory requirements. She also cited examples — lawyers in courthouses and politicians and their staff in Parliament — with less onerous vaccination requirements than her business, noting tour passengers did not face similar controls. Also in the mix is a South West Development Commission campaign to help teenagers into the hospitality front lines this summer, with some youngsters reporting businesses posting job ads were not responding to queries.