As businesses start to re-open their doors, desperate for paying customers to return, a challenge they must learn to overcome is dealing with people who resist showing proof of their vaccination. As per mandatory government requirements, most businesses must receive evidence of their customers’ double vaccination in the form of a COVID-19 government certificate to allow them entry into their premises. Some customers, however, may become difficult when asked to act in accordance with mandatory requirements, where they refuse to show vaccine proof, check-in to your business or even wear a mask. This issue can be especially taxing in the lead up to the Christmas trading period.

There is no doubt this will create some form of anxiety for the staff who are requesting proof of vaccination at the front door. They’re the ones who have to deal with customer pushback and frustration, especially from aggressive unvaccinated consumers who must be refused entry.

As business owners have been warned, especially in Victoria, they could face huge fines for not following the guidelines designed to keep their customers safe. It’s hard enough as it is navigating the process of ensuring your staff are fully vaccinated, and now businesses must adhere to more mandatory rules to keep their staff and consumers safe in their shops, restaurants and offices. It can be a challenge to give people an ultimatum, no proof of vaccination, no entry. Some businesses might take the risk, but if found out, they could be fined upwards of $109,044 for not following the rules.  You can learn more about these guidelines here. https://online.fines.vic.gov.au/News/Covid-restrictions-and-penalties-in-Victoria

If there is an outbreak in your business, it will be closed while the authorities investigate. This process could be damaging to your brand, and the shutdown phase can harm your revenue.

We know that many businesses will do the right thing and put everything in place to minimise risk.  It has been a stressful time for everyone. We know people are tired of this pandemic, so when they are challenged as a consumer wanting to enter a retail store, restaurant, gym, beauty salon, business or trade service desk, they may become angry and take their frustrations out on your staff.


Here are our recommendations on how you and your employees can best deal with a disgruntled customer who refuses to provide proof of being fully vaccinated or follow mandatory guidelines:

  • Have government signage up at the front entrance of your premises that explains the rules of the QR code check-in, COVID-safe initiatives and the request for proof of vaccination before entry. You can learn more about these steps here.
  • If confronted by someone who does not wish to comply, be open and honest about your company’s responsibilities under government directives and the need to comply with mandates to ensure the health and safety of your staff and customers.
  • Don’t be confrontational and manage your emotions. Let them know that there are huge fines if your company does not comply.
  • If a customer says they are vaccinated but have left their phone at home, cannot download the check-in app or show you proof of their COVID-19 digital certificate, sympathise with them but explain that they do need to provide evidence of their vaccination to be allowed entry.  
  • Clear communication from the staff member who is checking proof of vaccination is key.  They must explain that they’re just doing their job. We recommend that they refer to a one-page policy document that explains government requirements. This will take the ownership away from your team.
  • You may also want to have documentation in different languages to refer to customers who do not speak or read fluent English.
  • Make sure you have a system in place where a senior staff member or manager can be called to help deal with the situation.

In most cases, people will follow the rules and have a COVID-19 digital certificate linked to the check-in app, but there may be some consumers that don’t and will challenge you when asked.  There will be some situations where a customer will get angry, frustrated and demand immediate entry. It is extremely important that you follow a planned process to defuse the situation. It takes patience to calm people down, especially if they yell or threaten to take their business elsewhere.  Some may even threaten to sue for not allowing entry. You need to prepare your staff for such challenges so that they can clearly explain the policy put in place to follow government-mandated rules and ensure staff and customer wellbeing.

The last thing you want is someone creating a serious disruption in your business because they refuse to get vaccinated or follow COVID-safe guidelines. Should a consumer become hostile and abusive, immediately call for support from security or the police.  You can find more information on the vaccination status of your customers here.

At KBA, we believe that this is a huge responsibility for a business to manage.  We don’t want conflict over this situation. We just want to get on with running our businesses, supporting our great staff and providing our customers with the best products and services. Whilst it may be challenging to follow these guidelines, we at KBA want to support every business and consumer through this process to ensure our country stays safe and comes to a collaborative resolution.

At KBA, our ‘How To Deal With Difficult Customers’ document details 15 steps to help turn an angry customer around, so they become happy again.  Download here! This document is a useful tool that provides some great tips to help your staff deal with difficult customers during COVID-19 and manage unhappy customers in the future. If you need further assistance or have any questions about what you’ve read here, or need a policy created, contact us today, and we can help support your company.

At KBA, we have a vast number of downloadable information from our company website: www.keyba.com.au

We are a team that is very passionate about taking businesses from good to great. If you need help growing your company or are looking for ways to motivate and better manage your staff, please contact us today. We are here to help!

If you would like help or want to know more about our services, please contact us at Key Business Advisors on 1300 4 ADVICE

*****Watch our Webinar facilitated with an expert lawyer discussing the topic around Covid-19 Vaccinations, ‘Employer Rights and Obligations – Covid-19 Vaccinations’

About The Author

Colin Wilson

Director and founder, Colin Wilson drives Key Business Advisors with determination, passion, and motivation.

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to our newsletter

With useful information and tips to minimise risk and help you grow your business.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.