Perth climbing center The Hangout will close as part of WA’s vaccination mandate

A popular rock climbing center in WA will close after nearly three decades in protest against the state’s strict vaccine mandate.

The Hangout Indoor Rock Climbing Center has told customers that after 26 years at Bayswater it refuses to ‘participate in any form of segregation’ by requiring proof of vaccination from customers.

Premier Mark McGowan has announced that fitness centers will be among a series of businesses that will be required to require vaccination certificates from customers from January 31.

“Under WA’s new mandates, we would be required to exclude certain members of our community based on their health choices…and this is something we will not do,” the owners wrote on Facebook.

Gym owners Gareth and Tracey likened the rules to ‘medical apartheid’ and said customers’ decisions to get vaccinated were ‘absolutely none of our business’.

“We’ve always run The Hangout with an ethos of accessibility and respect,” they said.

“We have always strived to make rock climbing as accessible as possible to everyone, regardless of age, background, personal choice or ability.

“We absolutely refuse to participate in any form of segregation!”

The post has since been inundated with hundreds of comments, including many who were gutted by the decision to shut down.

While there was some support, some customers were appalled by the wording of the statement.

“Seeing you compare a vaccine mandate to apartheid is just depressing, the main difference here is choice,” one wrote.

“Nobody can choose the color of their skin, but they can choose their vaccination status. There are so many privileges in this decision, it is completely wrong to compare it to apartheid”

“You lost me when you compared vaccination mandates to apartheid. A bit of a step back is needed,” another added.

While some have said how little the companies’ position will impact the new rules.

“It’s sad, but in reality it won’t make a difference,” wrote one customer.

“We hope this will make a difference for people who would otherwise be excluded,” the owners replied.

Virginia F. Goins