Retailers welcome the announcement to change close contact isolation rules in Victoria and New South Wales this weekend, anticipating it will lessen the burden of labour shortages throughout the industry.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb says the impact of isolation rules has been devastating for the retail and hospitality workforce, who have been hit with ongoing labour shortages as employees are forced into isolation regardless of a negative test result.
“Isolation rules have been critical in reducing the severity of infection rates, but as vaccination rates peak, close contacts who are vaccinated should be able to continue to work, or we will continually have large numbers of people out of the workforce,” Ms Lamb said.
“Small businesses are losing massive chunks of revenue as their employees are unable to work. This is causing our economy to fall behind other developed countries that are prosperiThe NRA has today welcomed a ruling by the ACCC to authorise tenants to collectively bargain with landlords for continued rental relief. Visit our website!ng from an active workforce.
“In the past two years we have mitigated the risks as much as possible, at times to the detriment of the retail and hospitality workforce.
“Other industries are exempt from close contact isolation rules to ensure essential services can continue. This needs to be extended to the rest of the workforce to allow people who cannot work from home to return to work following a negative test result,” Ms Lamb said.
Ms Lamb says we should not become complacent with managing the health risks of Covid, but it makes sense to change the rules as we enter a new phase of living with the virus.
“It is apparent the effects of Covid are much less severe than what they were a year ago and to what they will be in a year’s time.
“Just as the decision was made to open our borders and scrap vaccine mandates, we need the strength of our leadership to take another leap of faith in this direction.
“It’s time to move forward and get healthy people back to work.”
VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT EASES RESTRICTIONS
As the peak of the Omicron wave begins to subside – and with almost 70 per cent of adults now armed with their third dose – Victoria will move into winter safely with most restrictions removed from 11:59pm, Friday 22 April.
As part of the Minister for Health’s changes to pandemic orders:
- Patrons won’t be required to have two doses or show their vaccination status before entering any venue
- The requirement for staff and patrons of venues to check-in using the Service Victoria app will end, with operators not required to keep any attendance records or maintain a check-in marshal
- Masks will no longer be required in primary schools, early childhood, hospitality and retail settings, or at events of any size
- Close contacts will no longer have to quarantine – provided they wear a mask indoors and avoid sensitive settings. They will also need to undertake at least five negative rapid tests over the seven days that would previously have been the self-quarantine period
- All visitor restrictions in hospitals will be removed except for mask requirements, with health services able to tailor their own settings based on their own circumstances
- Events with more than 30,000 people will no longer require public health pre-approval
- International travellers who are symptom-free will be recommended but not required to get a PCR or rapid test on arrival, and unvaccinated travellers will no longer complete 7 days’ quarantine. Pre-departure tests for unvaccinated air crew will also be lifted
- People are exempt from testing or quarantine for 12 weeks if they’ve had COVID-19 – up from 8 weeks
- Individuals will be required to notify their workplace contacts, in addition to informing their social contacts. Workplaces won’t have to individually identify and notify each potentially exposed worker
A number of settings will be retained, including the essential requirement to isolate for seven days following a COVID-19 diagnosis and existing two-dose and three-dose vaccination mandates for workers.
Visitor restrictions in care facilities will be retained to protect the vulnerable. Residents can currently have up to five visitors per day if each show a negative rapid antigen test result – or two visitors if no test results are provided.
Face coverings will still be required on public transport and at airports – excluding airport workers who aren’t public-facing – and in sensitive health, aged care and justice settings. All workplaces will still require a COVIDSafe Plan.
Many rules which are no longer required will be recommended, including working from home if you’re a close contact exempt from quarantine. Masks are strongly recommended when you can’t physically distance.
NEW SOUTH WALES EASES CLOSE CONTACT RULES
The NSW government has scrapped the requirement for close contacts of COVID-19 cases to isolate at home for seven days. These changes will come into effect from 6pm, Friday 22 April.
Those deemed a close contact of a positive case will have to undertake a daily rapid antigen test and wear a face mask in indoor settings for the seven day period.
Close contacts are urged to work from home where possible and will have to notify their employer that they are a close contact and stay away from hospitals and aged care settings.
In addition, unvaccinated international returning travellers will not be required to undertake hotel quarantine from April 30.
Another other key change announced today is the lifting of public health orders that require key workforces to be vaccinated.
Orders requiring aged care and disability workers to be vaccinated will remain in force.