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Thousands of essential workers to be exempt from close contact isolation amid supply chain issues

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Thousands of essential workers will be permitted to leave Covid close contact isolation to prevent crippling supply chains across NSW. 

The state had its deadliest day since the pandemic began with 30,062 cases and 16 deaths on Sunday, up from a previous tally of 15 deaths on two days in September. 

The number of new infections is expected to be far higher than reported as the results of rapid antigen tests are not yet included in the final tally.  

The state government reintroduced a raft of new rules that will remain in place for three weeks in an attempt to kerb spiralling cases.

Essential workers in the food, logistics and manufacturing sectors will be allowed to leave their close contact isolation if they don’t have any Covid symptoms.

Essential workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors will be allowed to leave isolation if they are not experiencing any Covid symptoms (pictured, a Woolworths employee)

Essential workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors will be allowed to leave isolation if they are not experiencing any Covid symptoms (pictured, a Woolworths employee)

NSW Health announced the changes on Sunday after Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant signed off on the new rules, hoped to alleviate pressure on supply chains

NSW Health announced the changes on Sunday after Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant signed off on the new rules, hoped to alleviate pressure on supply chains

Workers will only be eligible to leave if their employee decides their absence from work poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities.

NSW Health announced the changes on Sunday after chief health officer Kerry Chant signed off on the new rules, hoped to alleviate pressure on supply chains. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet explained employees must return a negative rapid antigen test before returning to work and undergo daily testing during an update on Sunday. 

‘Those orders were signed off this morning and we believe it will ease the pressure on supply and distribution networks, particularly for those essential areas across our state as we move through the next few weeks,’ the premier said. 

‘The NSW Government has announced a range of precautionary measures to provide additional support for the health system and community ahead of an anticipated peak in Covid cases later this month,’ a tweet from NSW Health read.  

According to a statement from the NSW Government, workers exempt from the isolation period must fit a certain criteria and follow Covid-safe practices.  

Thousands of essential workers will be allowed to leave close contact isolation in the face of crippling supply chain issues across NSW (pictured, empty shelves in a Sydney supermarket)

Thousands of essential workers will be allowed to leave close contact isolation in the face of crippling supply chain issues across NSW (pictured, empty shelves in a Sydney supermarket)

The state recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began with 30,062 cases and 16 deaths on Sunday, up from a previous tally of 15 deaths on two days on September 29 and September 30 (pictured, customer sit outside a cafe at Bondi Beach)

The state recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began with 30,062 cases and 16 deaths on Sunday, up from a previous tally of 15 deaths on two days on September 29 and September 30 (pictured, customer sit outside a cafe at Bondi Beach)

Workers will only be eligible to leave if their employee decides their absence from work poses a high-risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities

Workers will only be eligible to leave if their employee decides their absence from work poses a high-risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities

Workers must be unable to work from home, wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer, including the use of rapid antigen tests. 

Any worker who leaves isolation and later tests positive for the virus must return to self-quarantine. Emergency services workers are also exempt from isolation rules. 

According to the state government, the decision was made to ensure the state had access to essential goods, amid widespread shortages.

Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres reiterated that no workers who tested positive to the virus would be sent back to work. 

‘And that’s about shoring up our food distribution, food manufacturing supply chains, to make sure that all of those things that we see in our supermarkets and across the general economy can continue to function,’ he told reporters.   

Workers must be unable to work from home, wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer, including the use of rapid antigen tests

Workers must be unable to work from home, wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer, including the use of rapid antigen tests

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) announced the state has purchased an additional 50 million rapid antigen tests on top of the 50 million already on their way

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) announced the state has purchased an additional 50 million rapid antigen tests on top of the 50 million already on their way

Mr Perrottet announced the state bought an additional 50 million rapid antigen tests on top of the 50 million already on their way. 

He said the vital tests would be rolled out across NSW, ‘particularly in those areas where there are vulnerable people’.

Positive rapid antigen tests will be logged on the Service NSW app by mid-week to aid the counting of daily cases, and for those with underlying conditions. 

NSW Health said public health orders would be updated next week to include a requirement that people report their positive rapid antigen test to link people with Covid-19 to health support and advice.

The premier said those who had a positive RAT and then sought a PCR test will not be required to register their result as they would already be connected to NSW Health through the PCR test process. 

The self-test kits would be crucial to return students to school at the end of this month with back-to-school plans currently being finalised. 

‘This will be a core part of the plans getting kids back in the classrooms. We are completely committed to doing that,’ the premier said. 

Essential workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors will be permitted to leave their close contact isolation if they return a negative Covid test and are asymptomatic (pictured, a delivery truck seen at a Coles supermarket in Sydney)

Essential workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors will be permitted to leave their close contact isolation if they return a negative Covid test and are asymptomatic (pictured, a delivery truck seen at a Coles supermarket in Sydney)

The premier said 100million rapid antigen tests would be rolled out across NSW,'particularly in those areas where there are vulnerable people' (pictured, a shopper in Sydney's CBD)

The premier said 100million rapid antigen tests would be rolled out across NSW, ‘particularly in those areas where there are vulnerable people’ (pictured, a shopper in Sydney’s CBD)

‘That is exactly the focus of the NSW Government. It is crucial that kids are back into school on day one and that is our focus and we’ll be raising those plans with the Federal Government at National Cabinet later this week.

‘And we will, once we’ve finalised those plans, we will release them to the public so that parents right across the state can have confidence that they’ve been able to ensure that kids are back on day one.’

Meanwhile, the suspension of non-urgent elective surgery has been extended into February to alleviate pressure on the healthcare system and staff members.

Singing and dancing will remain prohibited in hospitality venues including pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, entertainment facilities, and major recreation facilities until 27 January.

It comes as a record 16 NSW residents have died with Covid as new cases drop 33 per cent to 30,062 with far fewer tests conducted. 

In NSW, just 98,986 people got tested on Saturday with 83,993 in Victoria, compared to 116,915 and 89,513 a day earlier. 

Restrictions brought back in NSW and Victoria amid surging case numbers

VICTORIA:

DENSITY LIMITS REINTRODUCED: Density limits of one person per 2sqm will be brought back for indoor areas at hospitality venues like pubs, nightclubs and restaurants as of 11.59pm on Thursday.

These rules will not apply to indoor cinemas and theatres as people are seated and are wearing masks but will be enforced in arcades and casinos.

WORK FROM HOME ENCOURAGED: Victorians have also been strongly advised to work and study from home until Australia Day.

ELECTIVE SURGERY PAUSED: Daniel Andrews’ government had already declared that as of Thursday, category two and three elective surgery would be paused.

Emergency surgery will still be allowed.

NEW SOUTH WALES:

TESTING CHANGES: People will be able to log positive RAT results with Service NSW from next week. They will be counted in daily Covid case figures.

STANDING AT PUBS DISCOURAGED: Venues will be discouraged from allowing ‘vertical consumption’ while drinking at bars and pubs.

ELECTIVE SURGERY SUSPENDED: The state has suspended elective surgery until mid-February to relieve pressure on the hospital system.

BAN ON SINGING AND DANCING: Singing and dancing is banned in ‘high-risk environments such as pubs and restaurants. The ban does not apply to weddings or dance classes.

SOME LARGE EVENTS CANCELLED: The ‘overwhelming majority’ of events will proceed, but will need approval of NSW Health.

BOOSTER NEEDED TO BE CONSIDERED ‘FULLY VAXXED: High risk workers – like teachers and front line healthcare workers – will be required to have the booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated. 

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