The NSW and Victorian Governments have announced close contacts of Covid-19will no longer have to isolate for seven days.

The removal of the requirements was welcomed by both the National RetailAssociation (NRA) and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), stating itwill provide relief to businesses burdened by staff shortages.

Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA, said the isolation rules are well past their useby date given Australia is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.

“Staff shortages due to Covid isolations have been an enormous frustration forsmall businesses in particular, with 48 per cent of ARA members saying thesituation had gotten worse in the past month. Some have had to alter theirtrading hours, or close some locations altogether, because they haven’t beenable get people to fill shifts at the last minute.”

In NSW, those deemed a close contact must perform a daily RAT, wear a facemask while indoors, and are being urged to work from home where possible.

In Victoria, close contacts must produce at least five negative RAT resultsover the seven days, wear a mask while indoors, and avoid sensitive settings.

Dominique Lamb, CEO of the NRA, said the isolation rules had been devastatingfor the retail and hospitality workforce as employees are forced intoisolation regardless of a negative test result.

“Isolation rules have been critical in reducing the severity of infectionrates, but as vaccination rates peak, close contacts who are vaccinated shouldbe able to continue to work, or we will continually have large numbers ofpeople out of the workforce.

“Small businesses are losing massive chunks of revenue as their employees areunable to work. This is causing our economy to fall behind other developedcountries that are prospering from an active workforce.”

Lamb said over the past two years the industry has mitigated the risks as muchas possible, often at times to the detriment of the retail and hospitalityworkforce.

“Other industries are exempt from close contact isolation rules to ensureessential services can continue. This needs to be extended to the rest of theworkforce to allow people who cannot work from home to return to workfollowing a negative test result.”

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