Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a major revamp of the state’s isolation rules for essential workers in vital industries that supply food, petrol, energy and water.
Freight and logistics is classified as a vital industry.
Under the changes that came into effect today, workers who are identified as close contacts but don’t have Covid symptoms will no longer be required to isolate.
The announcement came just hours after the NSW government announced similar reforms.
Earlier today, the Queensland Trucking Association sent an alert to its members to say an employer in a critical industry can identify and create a Critical Worker List of critically essential roles.
A close contact who performs a critically essential role can then leave quarantine to carry out that role if they:
- have no Covid-19 symptoms
- are fully vaccinated
Critical essential roles
A critical essential role is one that:
- requires a person with particular skills; and
- must be performed in person at the workplace; and
- must continue to be performed to:
- prevent an immediate risk of death or serious injury to a person; or
- prevent serious harm (social, economic or physical) in the community.
What employers need to do
An employer in a critical industry who requires a close contact to attend the workplace to carry out a critically essential role must create a Critical Worker List and have it available if required by an emergency officer.
What critical essential workers need to do
If you have an employee that has advised they are a close contact who performs a critically essential role in your business, they can can leave quarantine to carry out that role as long as they:
- have no Covid-19 symptoms
- are fully vaccinated.
When leaving their place of quarantine to go to work, they must:
- use a mask when indoors. Also wear a mask outdoors if they cannot physically distance from other people.
- travel to and from the workplace by private transport, by the most direct route practicable and without stopping (except for refuelling and that should be contactless if possible)
- monitor their symptoms
- regularly clean their hands
- take a rapid antigen test (RAT) on day 6 of their quarantine period
- practice physical distancing from other people until the end of their quarantine period
- comply with any industry or employer requirements for workers in a critically essential role.
The Transport Workers’ Union said transport workers have been “thrown to the wolves” with the relaxing of isolation laws.
The union was urging the prime minister to include unions in an urgent supply chain meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon to properly hear their concerns.
“Scrapping isolation requirements for transport workers is beyond reckless – workers are being thrown to the wolves by a government that continues to ignore all the warnings,” said Michael Kaine, national secretary of TWU.
“We know even if you’re asymptomatic you can still spread the virus. Requiring potentially sick people to go to work won’t make supply chains healthy. Sick drivers won’t get stock onto supermarket shelves any faster but it will certainly help the virus hitch a ride across Australia.”
The decision requires asymptomatic close contacts to wear masks and take daily rapid antigen tests, but the union says RATs alone don’t offer enough protection as they won’t pick up every Covid-19 case.
“Someone who is a close contact is by definition the greatest risk of passing it on – the NSW government is effectively scrapping the last buffer we had left to protect workplaces,” said Kaine.