The small town of Merrigum in the Victoria region may lose its only post office because the operator has refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, citing her “freedom of choice”.
Angela Spedding has run Merrigum Post Office and Newsstand for more than six years.
On Tuesday in a social media post, Spedding said she had been told by the Australia Post that the post office would have to close if she had not booked in to receive a vaccine before the end of the work week, and she would also have to stop with delivering mail.
The Australia Post denied that Spedding had been told to close the office, but said she had advised them it would close from Thursday after discussions about her compliance with state health orders.
According to the Victorian state health order, about 1.25 million licensed workers — including newsagents and post offices — must be vaccinated by Friday in an effort to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases before easing restrictions.
Spedding told her clients that all postal services would cease because of her choice not to be vaccinated.
“As for your street mail, they want another contractor, but where it’s going I have no idea,” she said on Facebook. “I apologize for the inconvenience this will cause to all of you, but it is my freedom of choice.”
Merrigum, a sleepy town with fewer than 700 people in the Goulburn Valley, has a predominantly elderly population, many of whom, Spedding said, had already been vaccinated.
But she had been “firm” against receiving the vaccine, citing concerns about its side effects and mistrust of the government.
“I do not watch much television, but I read on Facebook, I do not think so [the vaccine] should ever have a mandate, ”she said.
“But the Australia Post told me I either had to get a vaccine or make an appointment. They will be here to clean all mail, packages, everything. ”
An Australian Post spokesman said it had complied with government requirements and health instructions throughout the pandemic, and was sad that the licensee had chosen to close.
They said the outlet would continue to operate normally if the licensee complied with the health ordinances. If it closed, all mail would be diverted to Girgarre, more than 20 km from Merrigum.
As the threat of closure became increasingly real, Spedding said she began to rethink her decision.
“If I don’t get vaccinated, they take my business,” she said.
“I do not want to get it, but it’s throwing away what I’ve been working for for the last seven years … I do not really have a choice.
“When I took over this place, it got worn out, they had almost no clientele, and I built it up to be a good local post office. Society supports me. ”
Spedding said the covid-19 boom on mail delivery over the past 12 months had built her business to be worth about $ 250,000. She hoped to eventually be able to sell the newsstand to nurture her pension.
“If they take it away, without the Australia Post, the newsstand is worth nothing,” she said.
“I get $ 95,000 worth of income from the Australia Post a year. I have been crying since I closed at. 13 today. What should I do?”
Since Merrigum’s LGA from Greater Shepparton was locked in to contain a Delta outbreak, its vaccination rate has improved from one of the lowest in the state to over 90% at first doses.