Retailers across the country are calling for an end to close contactisolation requirements and for national consistency around masks.

This is according to a member’s survey on Covid protocols conducted by theAustralian Retailers Association (ARA), which represents thousands ofAustralian retailers, both large and small.

The survey found that businesses continue to be impacted by staff shortagesdue to Covid isolations, with 48 per cent saying the situation has gottenworse over the past month, while 33 per cent say there’s been no change.

A majority of businesses (78 per cent) want close contact isolationrequirements to be scrapped for people who are testing negative and showing nosymptoms of Covid; and there’s strong support for mask rules to be nationallyconsistent, with 68 per cent wanting the states and territories to be aligned.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said retailers continue to be frustrated by inconsistentCovid rules across the country, and staff continue to be forced intoisolation, even if they are not sick and testing negative.

“We’re one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and into the thirdyear of this pandemic, yet we’re continuing to let this virus control ourlives with overzealous Covid rules and restrictions which are out of step withmany global economies,” Zahra said.

“Close contacts isolation rules are past their use by date. It doesn’t makesense to force healthy people to stay at home when they show no symptoms ofCovid and test negative. Keep the sick and Covid-positive people at home, butthe healthy should be free to go about their lives. With staff shortagesgetting worse, we need to see these rules scrapped immediately.

“Masks are the other frustration with the rules different for retail staff inevery jurisdiction. In Victoria, it’s mandatory for workers in an indoor spacethat’s publicly accessible with no end in sight. In NSW, masks are encouragedfor staff, while in Queensland they’re not required at all.

“Our members support masks being optional for retail staff, and that ruleshould be applied nationally over the current approach where the states andterritories are going down their different Covid rabbit-holes. They are abarrier to workplace participation during our most acute labour shortages.

“Australians should be able to make up their own minds – if they feel safer inwearing a mask, then they can certainly wear a mask, but at this stage in thepandemic we don’t need government’s continuing with mandatory requirements.

“Vaccination rates are improving; people are getting their boosters and thefourth shot is now available. It’s clear that even with such high vaccinationrates, we’re going to continue to see cases go through peaks and troughs. It’stime to truly live with Covid as many other economies have for many months.”

Tagged: ARA, Covid

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