Major retailer’s note to staff about vaccinations divides shoppers

·4-min read

A major Australian retailer has confirmed it will abide by the NSW Government's wish to exclude unvaccinated adults when the retail chain reopens in NSW next month.

Best & Less announced its reopening plan in an internal letter addressed to staff from the brand’s head of retail, Joseph van Dyk.

“Dear Besties,” the correspondence titled “vaccinations” began.

“The NSW Government has recently started to outline their roadmap to easing restrictions in NSW. This is exciting news, and we look forward to welcoming you back to serve our customers and trade our stores as soon as current restrictions are lifted,” the statement which was leaked on social media said.

A photo of the letter sent to staff revealing the vaccine mandate. Source: Facebook
The internal letter to staff was leaked on social media and swiftly shared across Facebook groups, sparking outrage from some customers. Source: Facebook

It continued to outline October 18 as a possible reopening date when at least 70 per cent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

“Although this date could be earlier,” Mr van Dyk hinted in the message.

The letter then went on to reveal its rule around Covid-19 vaccinations.

“Customers will need to be fully vaccinated to shop in our store.

“We have also been advised that our Besties will be required to be fully vaccinated as well.”

This is in line with the NSW Government's reopening plan once at least 70 per cent of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated. The government announced non-essential retail will reopen for vaccinated people only.

(left) Vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine (right) the Pfizer vaccine being administered Source: Getty Images
Staff were also asked to advise the store of their vaccination status. Source: Getty Images

Mr van Dyk urged employees to “understand” their vaccination status and advise the chain prior to recommencing work.

“Please note that at this stage providing this information is voluntary. This may change if the NSW government issues a public health order requiring all staff in-store be vaccinated,” he added.

Mr van Dyk finished by strongly encouraging staff to get the jab if they’re eligible and offering two hours paid leave to do so.

“October 18 is not far away,” the letter read.

“Getting vaccinated means you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your community, it also means we get to do some of the things we are missing most, catching up with family and friends and travelling.”

Customers threaten to boycott business

The internal letter to staff, which has been widely shared on social media, sparked a mixed response online.

Many supported the move, with one person commenting: “well, people should be vaccinated”.

“Good on them, I am double vaccinated so don’t have an issue,” wrote another.

One woman said other stores should follow suit.

A photo of a baby clothes display at a Best&Less store. Source: Facebook/Best&Less
Customers at Best & Less will need to be fully vaccinated to shop in-store once retail is allowed to re-open in NSW. Source: Facebook/Best&Less

But many were outraged and threatened to boycott the discount retail chain over the move.

“I refuse to buy from a business that does that,” declared a Facebook user.

“At the end of the day it’s discrimination,” another said.

“Well that can go and get f***** cause I won’t go there,” another person posted in anger.

Even fully-vaccinated customers were not impressed by the store’s mandate.

“Personally this makes zero sense… I don’t believe in excluding unvaccinated people from life. It’s segregation of a minority,” a man commented.

Best&Less 'informing' not 'mandating'

A spokesperson for Best & Less Group told Yahoo News the intention of the letter was to inform staff of the NSW Government’s position. 

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Rodney Orrock said the store's policy is to comply with all relevant Covid-19 guidelines and head orders. 

"The NSW Government has indicated that all employees and customers of non-essential retail stores must be fully vaccinated before attending stores once the state reaches the 70% fully vaccinated threshold," the statement read. 

"In order to comply with the NSW Government’s position, Best&Less is providing our team members with paid vaccination leave and will continue to keep our team members and customers well informed to ensure the safety of everyone in our stores.”

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