Schools and businesses in Victoria fear they will be short-staffed when the state reopens, as the Covid vaccine mandate kicks in for 1.2 million authorised workers.
From Friday, essential workers in Victoria must have had at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, or be booked in for it by 22 October.
The mandate took effect as the state recorded 2,170 cases and six deaths on Friday, a day after setting another national record for daily case numbers.
As of Friday morning, 87.6% of Victorians aged over 16 had received at least one dose and 63.8% were fully vaccinated.
Workers refusing to comply with the mandate can be fined up to $20,000, while businesses face penalties of up to $100,000.
The vaccine mandate covers everyone who is currently allowed to work outside the home, including cleaners, allied health professionals and even pool maintenance operators.
Some teachers were concerned their schools would be left short-staffed as hesitant teachers weigh up their options or those opposed to the vaccine walk out of their jobs.
Teachers who have not had the vaccine yet can take leave until the end of this year, but from the start of term one, on 28 January, they will not be able to access paid or unpaid leave.
One teacher from the south of Melbourne who works at a small school said they would be short about seven people on Monday.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. There will be multiple staff members who will refuse to work,” she said.
She said a religious leader who works at the school tested positive to Covid on Wednesday, and she was concerned about the school’s Covid-safety measures.
“No masks, no social distancing, no ventilation, limited hand sanitiser.”
In Melbourne’s inner-north, childcare workers at a busy day-care centre were told they would be reimbursed $300 from management to “seek medical advice or to receive support for decision making” over the next four weeks.
The email said several staff members were weighing up their options.
“It’s really hard to get staff, so it would be a bad situation,” one of the workers said.
Guardian Australia has contacted the state’s education department.
The Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group, Tim Piper, said employers were struggling with “a small minority” of staff not wanting to get vaccinated.
“V-Day is creating huge issues for some, especially those smaller businesses that rely on one or two people to keep the business running,” he said.
“Members are contacting us expressing concern that some workers are refusing to be vaccinated.”
He said he had talked to some small business owners who were “worried about next week”. While he said they would not have to close doors, it might mean they lost good staff.
“The bigger businesses are also concerned about those who are refusing and what they’ll have to do in terms of restaffing,” he said.
People who give their employer misleading information about their vaccine status can be fined $11,000.
Premier Daniel Andrews previously said he made no apology for his government’s mandate.
“These mandates, these requirements, push people to do what needs to be done,” he said.
On Thursday a motion to ban unvaccinated MPs and staff from entering state parliament was passed by both houses.
It comes as health minister Martin Foley announced that doubled-dosed people from “red zones” such as greater Sydney will be able to enter Victoria without having to quarantine for 14 days, from midnight 19 October.
Instead, they will need to return a negative Covid test 72 hours before arriving in the state and isolate once there until they receive another negative test.
It will apply to both returning Victorians and non-residents and come into effect while Melbourne’s lockdown remains in place. That means people from NSW will be able to travel to the city before Melbourne residents can travel to regional Victoria.
“There will of course be transitional anomalies but as we get to 70 and 80%, as per the roadmap, they will evaporate,” Foley told reporters.