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Could Covid testing issues threaten supermarket supply?

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NatRoad has once again highlighted how inconsistent Covid testing requirements across states and territories could pose a threat to properly stocked supermarket shelves.

“Moving interstate freight throughout Australia during the pandemic is vital for all communities to stay supplied with food and goods,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.

Though he says NatRoad agrees with the national requirement for seven-day tests of drivers, which all states and territories opted for at the start of the pandemic, he adds, “But a three-day testing requirement, as exists in Victoria and as coming into effect in Queensland from Friday, is a bridge too far.

“Doing that when there are too few 24-hour testing locations creates issues with fatigue management and potentially forces trucks off the road.

“Having a pipette pushed to the back of the nasal cavity every few days wears the skin and creates nosebleeds – which is a health issue in itself.”

In a joint statement yesterday, the nation’s key trucking associations also highlighted the issues of current Covid testing regimes, including how it impacts fatigue management, testing locations and physical intrusion upon the individual being tested. At tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting they will make a case for self-testing kits to be approved for truckies.

Clark also said making less intrusive, rapid antigen testing available to drivers would be a viable way forward and NatRoad recognises that will require regulatory change.

“Right now, it’s time for all state governments step up and provide more ‘truck friendly’ Covid-19 testing sites on key transport routes in metropolitan, urban and regional locations,” Clark said.

“Media reportage of long queues of motorists lining up at testing facilities is real and accommodating an increased frequency of testing heavy vehicle operators who work odd hours creates another level of difficulty.”

Clark says NatRoad fully supported the Federal Government’s appeal to states to apply consistent border protocols.

“The bottom line is that heavy vehicles have kept essential freight moving safely right through this pandemic and will keep doing so, but don’t make our job more difficult,” Clark said.

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