More critical industries exempt from isolation requirements

13 January 2022

Additional sectors will be relieved from close contact isolation requirements to ease supply chain bottlenecks and workforce shortages after an announcement today by the Victorian Government.

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From 11:59pm, Tuesday 18 January, workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight will be eligible for the exemption, meaning they can return to work for continuity of operations if other options have been exhausted.

In line with earlier announcements, both employer and employee must consent to the arrangement, a face mask must always be worn when not eating and the affected worker cannot enter shared break areas – the employer must facilitate solo break time.

The exemption will apply to work only and not social or other settings.

Under the rules, a worker must undertake a daily rapid antigen test (RAT) for five days and return a negative result before attending work each day.

If at any time the worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a RAT, the exemption lapses and they must isolate for seven days.

“The Victorian Chamber has vocally advocated for these changes and welcomes the State Government’s affirmative and proactive action which will help to keep our state moving. Once again Victoria is leading the way and showing how to live with COVID,” Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Acting Chief Executive Scott Veenker said.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak is having widespread impacts on businesses across all Victorian industries and sectors, and these changes will further assist in minimising the disruption of increasing case numbers on some of our hardest hit industries.

“More employees will be able to get back to work, more business services will be able to resume as normal, and more hard-hit businesses will be able to maintain viable levels of trade.”

As part of the announcement, workplaces no longer have to advise the Department of Health and Worksafe of single cases.

The latest Department of Health contact management guidelines require workplaces to report when five cases have attended the workplace within seven days.

Industries earlier exempted from close contact isolation requirements are available here.

More information

More information on the conditions of the exemption and applicable workers will be published at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/isolation-exemptions when they come into effect.

Close contacts are classified as having spent more than four hours with a case inside a house, accommodation or care facility.

For more information about restrictions currently in place and what resources are available for your business, visit the Victorian Chamber’s COVID-19 resources page here.

As always, the most up-to-date information about restrictions is available on the Victorian Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) website. For specific information about how restrictions affect your business, visit the Business Victoria website.

If you, as an employer or an employer’s representative, feel unsure about what policies your organisation has in place or would like help in implementing a plan, please do not hesitate to contact the Victorian Chamber’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) team on 03 8662 5196.

Members can also call our Workplace Relations Advice Line on 03 8662 5222 to discuss their employment obligations and any issues that arise.

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