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Business groups call for easing of close-contact isolation requirements

Business groups in New South Wales and Victoria are calling for the easing of the seven-day COVID isolation requirements for household contacts.

In a joint statement released today by Business NSW and the Victorian Chamber for Commerce and Industry, they say current isolation requirements are coming in the way of business recovery and only worsening labour shortages faced by numerous sectors of the economy.

“Access to staff continues to be a major issue for business, and the current isolation requirements are making it difficult for them to provide service for customers and maximise their business opportunities,” said Paul Guerra, Victorian Chamber Chief Executive.

“We are seeing other parts of the world moving ahead with revised requirements, and we can use that experience to our advantage. We need to release the handbrake and enable businesses to operate at the maximum capacity possible and lead our economic recovery.”

Under current requirements, any individual living with someone who has COVID must take a rapid antigen test and self-isolate for seven days, regardless of the test result, while monitoring for symptoms. If another person in the household tests positive more than 14 days after the self-isolation period ends, the individual must self-isolate again.

Business groups instead advocate for daily rapid antigen tests so that workers who test negative and feel well may attend work as usual.

Currently, eligible critical workers exempt from isolation as household close contacts include those in public administration, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, education, and telecommunications.

Business NSW Chief Executive Daniel Hunter notes the “inconsistency and unfairness” in exemptions only for specific sectors.

“NSW and Victoria are Australia’s biggest economies, and the current isolation rules are providing a barrier to businesses as healthy people are forced to isolate unnecessarily,” he stated.

“This needs to be fixed so that all businesses can have fair access to workers in the current tight labour market and be open for business.”

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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