They could have made it simpler

Rhonda Dredge

Opening up in East Melbourne hasn’t been a case of storming Kmart at midnight or partying in the street but figuring out how to come out safely.

Until they master the double vax code, East Melburnians will be denied entry to restaurants, doubles games at tennis courts and art centres.

But some are asking if it’s worth all the effort. Are we suffering from code overload?

“They could have made it simpler,” Stuart Sanderson, a 50-year-old resident of Tribeca in Albert St, said.

Stuart is not rushing out to celebrate, having just endured the uncertainty of a COVID case in his building.


I'’m being ultra-cautious,” he said. “There was a COVID case isolating in the building. It finished yesterday. There is nothing I need desperately. I’ll wait for a week before I edge back out.


He is taking his lead from Sydney where there were two courts when it came to opening up. He’s in the cool cucumber group.

“There were those who stormed K-Mart at midnight and those who took a bit more care. The first trip I make will be to see my parents,” he said.

Stuart is frequenting small hospitality places such as the Fish Burger Bar in his building. The cafe is a casual kind of place with a few tables scattered around and you approach the counter after scanning your QR code.

“I don’t know who’s going to police the double vax,” the owner Alex, said. “It’s a pretty good area around here. We’re lucky. We’re a communal shop, part of the furniture.”

Stuart, who’s 50, said that people shouldn’t let age put them off linking their vaccination certificate with their QR code, even if it’s perplexing.

“I’m in IT and I find it convoluted,” he said. “It wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. The concept is good, but it was poorly executed.”

Most people are used to clicking on one app to activate it but to create the vax link you first have to log into your MyGov account, link this to Medicare then to Service Victoria, a process that has stymied some.

IT tragics can take a short walk down to the local Centrelink office. The one in Victoria St is handy and the queue short. When Inner City News visited, there was only one person waiting and the staff printed out a vaccination certificate in 15 minutes.

It is now up to hospitality venues to check vaccination certificates as they allow customers back inside to the comfort of subdued lighting and friendly wait staff but at Roccella, across the street from the Fitzroy Gardens and known for its Italian cuisine, diners are still barred from entering.

The restaurant is open for takeaway with a QR code on entry, but the chairs remain stacked up on tables, a sorry state that will continue until November 8.

“We were ready to open,” Roccella boss Joe Ceraso said. “But they changed the rule on the Wednesday just before the Friday opening day.”

The restaurant has 25 staff and most of them had only one jab, in line with what was expected in the Premier’s announcement. Now diners will have to wait until all his staff are double-vaxxed.

Locals are supportive of the stringent health regulations, including writer and broadcaster Jackey Coyle. “It’s fantastic going to eat at Roccella,” she said. “But I don’t want to go there and know people aren’t vaxxed.”

She’s been out to dinner twice and has a gig booked for the weekend and feels safe in East Melbourne. “It’s much worse when you go over the river to South Yarra where there’s a total disregard for wearing masks.”

Roze Elizabeth at the Colab Arts Centre, a gallery in the Fitzroy Gardens, was still figuring out how to deal with vaccination data on the day before retail was due to open.

“I wanted to open this weekend,” she said, but they’ve delayed for a week while members figure how they’re going to handle information from the QR scan at the entry point to the gallery.

“We’re not sure of the ins and outs,” Roz said. “What if people come in who are not vaccinated? Twenty-five died last night.”

At the Powlett St tennis courts, Jude George reported good bookings. You can play singles here without being double-vaxxed. “New South Wales played through lockdowns. There are some inconsistencies,” she said.

All agree that age is not the deciding factor when it comes to dealing with the multiple codes that now govern our lives.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 86,” Stuart said. “My brother is in his early 30s and he found it annoying. My dad is 79 and he is more switched on than I am.” •

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