Virgin Australia to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for staff

Virgin Australia intends to follow Qantas' move to require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying it is necessary to protect employees, customers and the community.

The country's second largest airline said on Monday it had proposed requiring all front-line facing staff be vaccinated by November 15 this year, and for all office-based workers to have had the jab by March 31, 2022.

Virgin said it is consulting with employees and unions ahead of announcing a final policy. Staff with medical issues that stop them from being vaccinated would be managed on a "case-by-case basis".

"It is clear that vaccination is the only way back to normal freedom of movement and the richness in life that comes from spending meaningful, in person time with family, friends and colleagues," said Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

"The majority of our team at Virgin Australia are already vaccinated, and we will be listening to our team members to ensure we find the best fit policy for our organisation.

"We know that some team members have questions and concerns about vaccinations. Through an internal campaign of education with qualified experts, we aim to inform and assure as many of our team members as possible."

Qantas announced on August 18 its staff would need to be vaccinated

"One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day," chief executive Alan Joyce said. "Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important, and I think it's the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us."

Qantas has already said passengers on international flights will need to be vaccinated when they resume, but Mr Joyce said he had not decided whether to extend that policy to domestic services.

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The airline has also offered rewards to passengers who get vaccinated, including frequent flyer points and fare discounts. Virgin Australia also plans to launch a vaccination incentive scheme this week.

Several major travel companies have also announced that staff and guests would need to be vaccinated in order to participate in their tours. These include Intrepid and the companies owned by The Travel Corporation, which owns Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations, among others. 

See also: Why the new Qantas ad has all of Australia talking (and crying)

See also: Don't want a vaccine passport? Don't expect to travel again, anywhere

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