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New close contact isolation requirements for key workers

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The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) has welcome changes to the close contact rules set out in National Cabinet today, but say more needs to be done.

Premier Peter Gutwein has met with other state leaders and Chief Ministers to discuss potential solutions to crippling labour shortages.

Relaxed isolation rules have been extended to a long list of industries, with the changes to go into effect from noon tomorrow.

Eligible workers will no longer be required to stay away from work when they're identified as a close contact, if they're asymptomatic and return a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

From 12pm Friday, close contact exemptions will be available for:

  • Emergency services, including Tasmania Fire Service, Tasmania Police and State Emergency Services;
  • Health Services at private hospitals and day procedure centres;
  • Essential service workers at prisons, detention centres or correctional facilities;
  • Power, utilities and essential infrastructure services;
  • Government run and contracted transport services;
  • Commercial laundry and cleaning services (note – not in residential premises);
  • Manufacturing, freight, logistics, warehousing and distribution services, relating to the supply, storage and provision of essential goods and services. This includes the packaging and stocking of supermarkets and grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, greengrocers, chemists and pharmacies;
  • Workers in the freight, logistics, distribution and warehousing of mail and post, including courier and distribution services; and
  • Agriculture and aquaculture services, including but not limited to services relating to biosecurity and food safety, food and fisheries production.

Workers will need to be symptom free and produce a negative RAT test every day for the seven or remaining days of their isolation period while at work.

For the next two weeks, the Government will provide RATs directly to businesses to facilitate this.

They must also wear the appropriate PPE and take steps to avoid social settings, travelling only to and from their place of work.

Businesses will need to apply to WorkSafe Tasmania and demonstrate how the employee's absence has an impact on their services.

Public Health say they expect the approvals process will be relatively quick.

The TCCI have pushed for the new isolation requirements to go further.

CEO Michael Bailey says other states have gone much further with relaxing the rules regarding close contacts.

"The reality is that Tasmania will have to match that eventually and further ease the rules because businesses simply can’t cope at the moment," Mr Bailey said.