Sydney, Australia, Aug 30 (EFE).- Australian airlines Virgin Australia announced Monday it wants its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as the country struggles to inoculate its population to return to the normality that prevailed before an outbreak linked to the Delta variant mid-year.
According to the proposal, which will be subject to consultations with employees and unions and is similar to one announced by the Australian airline Qantas in the middle of August, Virgin Australia will require frontline employees, including cockpit and cabin crew, to be vaccinated by Nov. 15 and all office-based staff by Mar. 31, 2022.
“Vaccination is the only solution to the situation Australia currently finds itself in, and something we have determined is vital to keep our team safe, given the high public exposure most of them encounter day to day,” Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said in a statement.
In August 2020, Virgin Australia, the second largest airline in the country, announced its plan to cut 3,000 jobs to revive the company under its new owner, Bain Capital, although last week it announced that it will add nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft into its fleet from October to prepare for an expected increase in domestic travel.
The proposal to require Covid-19 vaccination for its employees comes amid a debate over public healthcare and workers’ rights in Australia, although a poll released on Sunday showed that 82 percent of Australians support mandatory vaccinations for high-risk workers.
On the other hand, the regional governments of Australia are divided regarding a move to normal life without lockdowns, which according to the Australian government’s plan would be possible once 70 percent of the adult population is vaccinated.
According to this phased plan, the country’s borders would be progressively reopened once that figure reaches 80 percent.
But the regions that do not have Covid-19 believe that after the Delta variant-linked outbreak in the city of Sydney in mid-June, the vaccination thresholds should be higher and be accompanied by strategies to suppress or eliminate the virus.
Despite Sydney’s lengthy confinement since June 26, cases continue to increase and have spread to other parts of the state of New South Wales, as well as the neighboring Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, also under lockdown. EFE