The National Cabinet has relaxed isolation rules for several key industries in order to curb the growing workforce shortages. The easing of isolation rules for close household contacts of COVID cases has been met with backlash from The Transport Workers’ Union.
The new changes mean workers who live in the same household as in a COVID-19 case can return to work if they produce a negative rapid antigen test and do not have symptoms.
Critical industries like transport and logistics, food supply and distribution networks, healthcare, emergency services, childcare are covered under this new rule.
The Transport Workers’ Union National secretary, Michael Kaine, has warned of distribution centres becoming virus hotbeds.
“We’re already hearing reports of close contact transport workers forced to return to work, leaving childcare to sick partners,” Kaine said. “These are the workers who’ve kept us going throughout the pandemic, now given no choice but to risk their own health and that of their families.”
In order to prevent further ‘virus explosions’ in the essential workplace, Kaine wants transport workers to access free and abundant rapid antigen tests, prioritising leave for booster shots, and isolation if workers carry the virus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the need for lesser restrictions to help reduce the pressure on the country’s hospital systems.
“The more you try to protect your hospital system, the more people you are taking out of work, which disrupts supply chains,” the Prime Minister told SMH.
Omicron is expected to lock 10 per-cent of the country’s workforce at its peak according to a Treasury Report presented to the National Cabinet.
This story first appeared on our sister publication Inside Retail