Hundreds of thousands of Victorians have been issued an ultimatum: get vaccinated for COVID-19 in two weeks or risk losing your job.
All Victorian authorised workers must have their first vaccine dose by October 15 and a second by November 26 to keep working on site, as part of a new statewide mandate.
The requirement will cover retail workers, personal trainers, MPs, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors and professional sportspeople.
Of the 1.25 million estimated authorised workers in the state, Premier Daniel Andrews said more than a million had already had their first dose.
He argues the policy shift is needed to curb rising case numbers after the state reported another 1143 infections and three deaths.
The state government plans to consult with certain industries such as energy, waste management and faith leaders but Mr Andrews flagged there would be few exemptions.
“There’s too much at stake,” he said.
The October 15 deadline will not replace Victoria’s separate vaccine mandate timelines for aged care, healthcare, freight, construction and education workers.
Mr Andrews played down the possibility the broader mandate could spark more anti-vaccine protests, with another three demonstrators arrested on Friday.
“I’m not taking lectures on freedom from people who will hold all of us back,” he said.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Guerra welcomed the decision, saying it “provides businesses with the certainty, guidance and protections”.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia also labelled it a “step in the right direction”.
“It protects healthcare workers. It protects patients,” PSA Victorian branch president John Jackson said.
But the Victorian opposition is demanding the public health advice behind the expanded mandate be publicly released.
“It has all the appearance of panic,” Shadow Treasurer David Davis said.
The state government has also revealed its plan to restart the construction industry from Tuesday after a two-week shutdown in Melbourne and other locked-down regions.
It comes as Greater Shepparton and Moorabool Shire, to the west and north of Melbourne, both entered snap, seven-day lockdowns overnight to contain growing cases.
Shepparton and its surroundings recently battled a major outbreak that sent about a third of its population into home quarantine, before the region emerged from lockdown just over two weeks ago.