Employers push to relax COVID-19 restrictions on more than 1 million workers
While some industry leaders want Australia to adopt the standard set in the United States on December 27, which allows people with COVID-19 to leave isolation after five days, they acknowledged that it was unlikely to gain the support of state health workers.
“We are calling for clear and consistent guidelines at the national level on how to manage the return of close contact to the workplace,” said Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar. “The national cabinet should extend the current critical worker close contact protocols to all workers.
“It is important that the close contact protocol system does not become more and more complicated with an ever-growing list of essential and critical services and workers. The logical and efficient option is to extend these protocols to all workers. “
Employers have been frustrated for months by the shortage of rapid antigen tests after calling on the government in August to take action to approve the kits and make them widely available. The Therapeutic Goods Administration took until November 1 to approve the kits.
Executives from sectors ranging from healthcare to retail said The Sydney Morning Herald and Age On Tuesday, they had no details of supplies other than assurances given by political leaders at press conferences.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that the federal government is looking to provide states with 10 million tests in the coming weeks. Coalition MPs have been told the government has secured 70 million tests to come this month and next.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said doctors were struggling to obtain kits to ensure their staff were safe for patients in GP surgeries.
“Many practices are severely affected by staff shortages, with large numbers of employees on leave or on sick leave,” said Dr Khorshid. “We would like to be assured that everything that can be done to ensure sufficiently rapid antigen testing will be done and that all shutdowns will be removed.”
Head of Professional Pharmacists Australia, Jill McCabe, said small stores lack the purchasing power to ensure the supply of kits and meet customer demand.
“It’s really chaotic there and we just need the government to step in and really play a vital role in scaling up so that we have access to a significant supply,” she said.
“The feedback we get from our members is that they are exhausted and many of them can no longer cope with what is being asked of them.
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