Queensland coffee entrepreneur says he won’t enforce vaccine mandate, decries ‘unprecedented overreach’

Queensland coffee entrepreneur Phillip Di Bella says he will not "discriminate" against people based on COVID-19 vaccination status at his cafe, despite a public health order that hospitality businesses can only open to fully vaccinated customers from next month.

Key points:Queensland coffee businessman Phillip Di Bella says he will not adhere to new business restrictions from December 17Hospitality venues will only be permitted to serve fully vaccinated customers from that datePremier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the new rules are about protecting Queenslanders

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday announced many businesses would only be permitted to serve fully vaccinated people when 80 per cent of Queenslanders over 16 were fully vaccinated, or from December 17 – whichever comes first.

In a video posted to LinkedIn on Tuesday, Mr Di Bella said his stance was about not vaccination status, but entirely based on his concern that human rights were being degraded by the upcoming public health order.

"It won't be happening in my venue, I can assure you," he said.

"The Coffee Commune will not discriminate. If you want to be vaccinated, you be vaccinated. If you don't, you don't."

In a statement issued later on Wednesday, Mr Di Bella said his cafe would "abide by any passed legislation".

"But that doesn't mean we will be resourced to police it," his statement said.

"The Coffee Commune will be an authority for its members to ensure they know and understand what the legislation means for them."

Mr Di Bella's statement said it was his "personal opinion" that the new regulations were "simply another blow for businesses, and an unprecedented overreach by the government".

"This is not about vaccines. This is an issue of businesses being dictated to, and not knowing where it will end.

"Allow people to make their own choices."

COVID restrictions to lift

Ms Palaszczuk said on December 17 all COVID-19 restrictions would be removed on clubs, cafes, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, music festivals and stadiums provided all staff and patrons were fully vaccinated.

People attending major sporting events at government-run stadiums must be fully vaccinated and weddings can also return to normal, if all participants and guests are double dosed.

Two men close-up holding small yellow coffee cups with saucers on a wooden table
All Queensland businesses will be free to operate without restrictions from December 17 if they only serve fully vaccinated customers.(ABC News)

Government-owned museums, libraries and galleries will also only open to fully vaccinated people.

"This is both a reward for the fully vaccinated and a precaution for when the borders open and we will see more cases in our community," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"People deserve to know that they can go to these places and that they are safe."

'Rocks in your head'

In the video, Mr Di Bella said he strongly objected to the new rules on human rights grounds, and said it was "not something I believe in".

"If you support them mandating something like this — that you have your human rights taken away on where you can eat, where you can drink, where you can associate, where you can go based on whether you're vaccinated or not — then you've got rocks in your head and this country has gone mad," he said in the video.

Dozens of people walk through Brisbane's Queen Street Mall, most are out of focus and the crowd stretches into the distance.
The business community has welcomed the announcement of government restrictions.(ABC News: Mark Leonardi)

Police will enforce the new requirements.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said it recognised some people had genuine reasons, like medical conditions, for not being vaccinated.

"They will not be affected by the upcoming rule changes," Queensland Health said in a statement.

What Queensland's new COVID rules will mean for youpeople at a bar ordering drinks

For mid-December, where you can go and what you can do will depend on whether or not you've had two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Here's what we know.

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Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope told ABC Radio Brisbane the public health order could be argued as discrimination if someone had a medical exemption from getting the vaccine, which is extremely rare, or on religious grounds.

"From a civil liberties point of view, this is restricting people's liberties," he said.

"The question is, whether this is justified and whether there are other methods by which it can be achieved which involve less interference with certain people's liberties.

"It's all about assessing what measures we take to reduce the risks that are faced by certain parts of the population, by imposing restrictions on other parts of the population."

Mr Cope said such issues were always "balancing acts" but as the new rules would be issued under a public health order and the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, the requirements placed on businesses would be law, and businesses could be fined for not cooperating.

Posted 10 Nov 202110 Nov 2021Wed 10 Nov 2021 at 12:06am, updated 10 Nov 202110 Nov 2021Wed 10 Nov 2021 at 4:56amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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