Food shortages and empty supermarket shelves are set to be alleviated with recent isolation rule changes, which clear asymptomatic and COVID-negative staff to return to work.
Dairy and meat producers have asked the government for more help to cope with COVID disruptions in their industries. Australian Dairy Products Federation president Grant Crothers said up to 40% of workers in some parts of the dairy supply chain were absent due to COVID or because they were close contacts. Crothers said dairy relies on a functioning supply chain as a perishable product with only few dairy farmers able to store more than 1.5 days’ worth of milk production on farm. In South Australia, a group of critical staff who tested positive for COVID but are asymptomatic have been allowed to continue to work in an isolated area away from others “to ensure food security.”
The rule change means that workers in the food sector, including supermarkets may be exempt from close contact isolation requirements provided they are asymptomatic, undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days and return a negative result prior to returning to work.