Transport workers exempt from self-isolation rules so shelves can be filled

ABOVE: The shelves were empty of toilet paper on Saturday, January 9 in Casino.

Susanna Freymark

On Saturday, January 9, the long steel shelf at Woollies in Casino was empty. Not a single roll of toilet paper. Some lonely wet wipes sat on the shelf but that was it.

There have been varying reports about empty supermarket shelves. Sometimes the milk is gone. Sometimes toilet paper. One supermarket might be low on stock and another has the shelves brimming with stock.

People, it seems are stocking up in case they have to isolate or get sick.

That combined with supply chain issues means empty shelves – sometimes.

It is a worrying trend across the state and NSW Health has changed the self-isolation rules to exempt workers who are part of the supply chain to get food products on supermarket shelves.

Critical workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors who are off work because they are a close contact will be able to leave self-isolation to go to work if they have no covid symptoms.

This is to ensure goods are delivered to supermarkets.

Workers will only be eligible to leave self-isolation if their absence from the workplace poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services and they are unable to work from home.

These workers must wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer including using daily rapid antigen tests.

Any worker who tests positive or develops symptoms of covid must self-isolate. The new rules take effect immediately and apply to critical workers in the following industries:

– agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)

– manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)

– transport, postal and warehousing (food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment)

The exemption from the isolation rules for close contacts also applies to emergency services workers.

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