On Monday, new rules came into place that prohibit anyone not fully vaccinated from entering many Armidale businesses and hospitality venues.
While so far local residents appear compliant, local business owners are each coping in their own way.
The 'Roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions' states from October 11, those who have not been fully vaccinated, and don't have an exemption, will be barred from entering all non-essential businesses - as though they were in a hard lockdown again.
Sentiment from those working in the 'non-essential' regional business community is that the expected downturn in trade now they can only host those who have had two shots is unfair, and responsibility for enforcement of the regulations is unclear.
Tattersalls Hotel manager Alison Herbst attended a recent Armidale Liquor accord meeting and she said the group discussed how they would approach the new regulations.
"The biggest one that affects us is the group bookings number allowed dropping back to 20, and there is no clarification about who is responsible for ensuring people abide by the rules," Ms Herbst said.
"It's putting the pressure on an industry that has already been hit really hard."
Ms Herbst said the Tattersalls Hotel had four entrance points which would be quite challenging to monitor.
"We have decided always to have management on-site to deal with issues, so it is not put back on our staff," she said.
"I don't know if people are aware of the new rules because up until this week, we have had more freedoms than we now have. Before Monday, you could come into our place whether you were vaccinated or not.
"As a group, none of us wanted to do it, but we agreed to abide by the NSW Health Guidelines and what is expected of us. But why put that extra pressure back on regional industry for seven weeks?"
New England Police District Chief Inspector David Cooper said $1000 on-the-spot fines for individuals might apply, and police will be responsible for issuing them, but they would prefer people to do the right thing, get vaccinated, scan QR codes, and show proof where required.
"There is also an on-the-spot fine of $5000 for businesses not complying with the public health order requirements," he said. "And businesses are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people from entering their premises."
According to NSW Government COVID-19 business rules, 'reasonable steps' include installing signage, providing QR codes, checking customer vaccination status upon entry, and only accepting valid documentation as proof.
Elly's Coffee Lounge owner Tania Parker said she was following New England MP Adam Marshall's social media messages suggesting she only needed to install signage advising that you needed to be double vaccinated to eat in.
"I'm taking his word for it that this will cover us," Ms Parker said.
"We now have restrictions that we didn't have before, so it has been a step back for us.
"I wasn't here yesterday, but my daughter told me she didn't have any problems, and everyone was very polite, so we haven't had any issues yet. But it is very disappointing because our sales are going to go backward, and it is going to put added strain on my finances having to do this until December."
At the Armidale Servies, members were invited to attend a clinic last week to learn how to load their smartphones or print out their vaccination proof.
"We tried to assist people with getting their certificates because you have to be a bit tech-savvy with some of it," said Armidale Ex-Services Club CEO Scott Sullivan.
"It is complex, and it can be as simple as having your address spelt differently, and it won't work, and you're on the phone for a while, so we just tried to assist members with the process as much as possible."
CEO Walter Sauer says business is down, but the new regulation procedures are running smoothly at the Armidale City Bowling Club.
"The only difference to what it was before is that we now have to check for double vaccination, and people have had a lot of time and warning," Mr Sauer said.
"Everyone that came through yesterday was prepared. A group of people will not get vaccinated, and have said we will not see them until December, but that is their choice.
"So it is a little bit quieter, and we expect a bit of a drop in business until December, but outside of that, it is pretty much what we have been doing for a year now."
The club has updated its system, so members do not need to show vaccination proof every time they enter the premises.
"What you must do is QR coding and proof of vaccination, and we now have our system set up, so you only do it once because once you show proof of vaccination to a member of staff, we record it on your membership," Mr Sauer said.
"We also need to check on our local delivery drivers, contractors, and suppliers; otherwise, they need to just drop goods at the door."
And only those who are double vaccinated can play bowls as the greens are part of the licensed premises, Mr Sauer said, but most players have been vaccinated.
"It is all we have heard for the last year, so if you don't know what you need now to go out, you must have been living under a rock somewhere," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: