Celebrity chef turned conspiracy theorist Pete Evans has urged his followers to sign a petition demanding no restrictions be placed on people who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Mr Evans, who is an outspoken anti-vaxxer, shared a link to the petition on his Instagram page on Wednesday.
The petition, which has been submitted to the House of Representatives, calls on the Australian government to confirm there will be “no restrictions placed on citizens or residents who refuse a COVID-19 vaccination”.
“This includes restrictions on travel, right to re-enter the country, social events such as concerts or sports, and access to shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc,” the petition reads.
The document claims bringing in such restrictions would be a violation of human rights and against the Australian Rules on Consent to Medical Treatment and the Ethical Standards of Helsinki.
The petition asks the government to also provide advice to “all business operating within Australia or in partnership with Australia that they should also not impose any such restrictions”.
As of 11am on Wednesday, the petition has received more than 30,000 signatures.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Omar Khorshid said while no one should be forced to get the vaccine, individual governments will need to make assessments for certain situations that could pose an increased risk of spreading COVID-19.
“Australians can have confidence in the safety of any vaccines approved for use in Australia, and the AMA encourages everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated,” he said.
“The vaccine should not be mandatory. However, individual governments will need to make risk assessments along the way depending on the levels of COVID in the community about restrictions on gatherings and travel, to keep their communities safe and restrict the spread of the virus.”
Mr Evans has been an outspoken critic of the COVID-19 vaccine and has continually spread misinformation around the pandemic.
In December, Facebook cracked down on the disgraced chef, removing his profile from its platform over claims he was spreading “misinformation” that could lead to “imminent physical harm”.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We don’t allow anyone to share misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.
“We have clear policies against this type of content and we’ve removed Chef Pete Evans’ Facebook Page for repeated violations of these policies.”
When Sydney’s northern beaches was dealing with an outbreak of the virus in the lead up to Christmas, Mr Evans made a post urging residents not to get tested.
He shared a photo of an article that read: “Sydney COVID outbreak grows with two new cases overnight.”
In the caption, Evans wrote, “OUTBREAK … 2 cases,” along with clown face emojis.
He added: “Can you see where this is heading again. Testing for the common cold? Do not get tested.”
He followed up with a number of posts about “sheeple”.
WHAT RESTRICTIONS COULD BE INTRODUCED?
The Federal Government has previously hinted that a COVID-19 vaccine may be required for anyone wishing to enter Australia.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told news.com.au the government “may consider establishing new entry requirements for incoming travellers” but there has been no decision around mandating the vaccine for international arrivals.
“An Australian requirement for proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry would be made in consideration of any new recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.
Qantas has already confirmed that proof of vaccination against coronavirus would be mandatory for anyone wishing to travel internationally on the airline.
“For international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft,’’ he said. “Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has also said her government was considering different ways to “incentivise” the jab and encourage residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
She told The Daily Telegraph certain hospitality venues, like pubs and clubs, might require customers to prove they have received the vaccination before entering.
“Clearly, opportunities to travel overseas or opportunities to enter certain workplaces or venues might be enhanced if you have the vaccine,” she said.
“Some of those decisions could be inspired by government, (and) some of those decisions might be inspired by the organisation themselves.”
Departmental buildings, police and fire stations, and Service NSW shopfronts could be among the other businesses where the COVID-19 vaccine may be required.