Confused customers have reached out to Coles on social media after mandatory Covid vaccination rumours emerged online – but the retail giant has since set the story straight.
The rumours, which falsely claim that Coles will turn away unvaccinated customers and deny work to staff that don't get Covid jabs, follow a recent NSW Health announcement.
The announcement states that NSW workers from Local Government Areas of concern must have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in order to continue leaving their LGA for work.
The announcement has caused confusion among some Coles customers who have contacted the retailer on social media.
“Is it true that Coles is turning away customers who have not had the Covid vaccination?” asked a Victorian customer on Facebook.
“An elderly friend of mine was asked by the checkout lady if she had received the Covid vaccination.
“The checkout lady said: ‘well if you’re not vaccinated you won’t be able to shop here’,” the customer claimed.
In comments under the post other customers have cast doubt on the allegations.
“Highly doubt that this actually happened, no supermarket is asking people if they have had their vaccine,” commented one person.
“I think things might have been misconstrued during conversation,” said another.
Coles has since sent a detailed statement to Yahoo News Australia explaining that neither patrons nor staff will be forced to vaccinate in order to enter their stores.
Vaccination rumours shut down in comments
Another customer also hit out at Coles online after an incorrect interpretation of the recent NSW Health order.
The NSW shopper, who appears to share anti-vaccine messages on her Facebook page, lashed out at Coles on their Facebook page after seemingly misinterpreting the announcement.
“I’ve heard that Coles is in the process of introducing a ‘No Jab No Pay’ rule for its staff. No doubt ‘No Jab No Entry’ will follow,” she said.
The post went to imply that vaccines are dangerous. The medical advice in Australia indicates that vaccines are safe and encourages eligible people to get them.
The post has since been inundated with comments from other Coles customers who have slammed the anti-vaxx tone of the post.
“It is not Coles or any other business that has control over this; your post is deceiving and untrue,” one person wrote.
NSW Health has confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that no announcement regarding a “no vaccination, no entry” policy has been made.
There is no evidence to suggest that Coles is withholding pay from employees. According to the Australian government's Fair Work Ombudsman, all pay, time off and other allowances pertaining to vaccinations is regulated under the award.
Coles clarifies vaccination rumours
A Coles spokesperson said they were closely following guidelines from the NSW Government, and have not made vaccines mandatory among staff.
“While Coles encourages our team members to get vaccinated so that we can continue to supply Australians with essential food and groceries, Coles has not made vaccination mandatory for our team members,” the representative said.
“NSW Government Health orders do require that some of our team members must be vaccinated in order to leave home for work; in these circumstances we support our team to comply with these legal requirements so that they can continue their essential work.”
“We are proud of our team members’ commitment and dedication and the way they’re helping ensure Australians can continue to shop safely,” they said.
Safe Work Australia’s website states that while vaccinations are not mandatory, there may be health orders that require staffers to get vaccinated.
“While the Australian Government is not making vaccination mandatory, states and territories may do so for some industries or workers through public health orders,” the website says.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.