Retailers welcome the announcement to change close contact isolation rules in Victoria and New South Wales this weekend, anticipating it will lessen the burden of labour shortages throughout the industry.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb says the impact of isolation rules has been devastating for the retail and hospitality workforce, who have been hit with ongoing labour shortages as employees are forced into isolation regardless of a negative test result.
“Isolation rules have been critical in reducing the severity of infection rates, but as vaccination rates peak, close contacts who are vaccinated should be able to continue to work, or we will continually have large numbers of people out of the workforce,” Lamb said.
“Small businesses are losing massive chunks of revenue as their employees are unable to work. This is causing our economy to fall behind other developed countries that are prospering from an active workforce.
“In the past two years we have mitigated the risks as much as possible, at times to the detriment of the retail and hospitality workforce.
“Other industries are exempt from close contact isolation rules to ensure essential services can continue. This needs to be extended to the rest of the workforce to allow people who cannot work from home to return to work following a negative test result,” Lamb said.
Lamb says we should not become complacent with managing the health risks of COVID, but it makes sense to change the rules as we enter a new phase of living with the virus.
“It is apparent the effects of COVID are much less severe than what they were a year ago and to what they will be in a year’s time.
“Just as the decision was made to open our borders and scrap vaccine mandates, we need the strength of our leadership to take another leap of faith in this direction.
“It’s time to move forward and get healthy people back to work.”