Australian supermarket giant Woolworths has welcomed the Queensland government’s decision to exempt asymptomatic close contacts from isolating when they’re classified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, allowing workers in the critical food and grocery supply chain to return to work.
“This is a proportionate response to challenges faced across the food and grocery supply chain, and the changes will assist us to continue to provide essentials to our customers,” a Woolworths Group spokesperson told The Epoch Times on Friday.
“We’re confident we can safely implement these changes given the numerous safety measures we’ve had in place across our Distribution Centres since the pandemic began.”
Under the new exemption, all workers in the food and grocery supply chain must wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employers, which includes daily rapid antigen tests.
Woolworths had already included daily rapid antigen testing, contact tracing, and protective mask policies as part of its protective measures.
“We thank governments at all levels for their continued engagement and assistance with measures to support the industry during this challenging time.
“We will engage with our teams on the changes which have been introduced in line with our COVID-19 protocols,” the grocery giant’s spokesperson said.
Following a meeting of National Cabinet, similar rule changes to close contact isolation arrangements for essential workers will commence in all Australian states and territories in a bid to keep critical sectors open.
The changes will be made by public health orders in each jurisdiction.
“National Cabinet noted that the changes made to furlough arrangements for food and grocery supply chain workers is starting to improve supply chains,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the changes Morrison announced “essential mirrors” what her government had in place already for a few days, with the exception of the federal policy extending to telecommunications and the media.
The change of rules in Queensland applies to critical workers in agriculture and the production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products, and transport, postal and food logistics and delivery.
Last week, Queensland removed the requirement for vaccinated freight workers and truck drivers to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test to enter the state.
“Freight workers and truck drivers are absolutely essential to keeping food on the table and rebuilding our economy, and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts over the last two years,” Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said in a release last week.
The state has implemented a new F border pass for freight workers and truck drivers, which will still need to be completed to cross the border.