Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that more industries and workers have been added to the list of COVID-19 close contacts who are exempt from quarantine requirements.
To further relieve pressure on supply chains, the easing of close contact restrictions — which allows workers to return to work after they have been in close contact with a positive COVID case, if they return a negative RAT — will extend to other industries.
Industries include transportation, freight, and logistics sectors including those at service stations, and all health, wellbeing, care and support services, emergency services including law enforcement, correctional services, energy resources, water and waste management, food and beverages, and other critical goods that do not including hospitality, telecommunications, and data. broadcasting, media, education and childcare.
The changes were agreed upon by state and territory leaders during the last national cabinet meeting on Thursday.
It was also decided that concession card holders would be able to access free rapid antigen tests from pharmacies starting January 24. They are eligible for 10 free express tests over a three-month period, with arrangements already completed with pharmacies.
Thereafter, RAT supplies will be prioritized for the health and aged care sectors, symptomatic close contacts, and vulnerable communities.
Mr Morrison said all decisions were made to “reduce serious illness, hospitalization and mortality”.
It comes as more than 92,264 new infections were reported in NSW after residents rushed to publish positive results from rapid antigen tests since the start of the year.
The dramatic rise in case numbers comes on top of another milestone as the state reported 22 deaths in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
There were 37,169 new cases and 25 deaths in Victoria.
More is coming …
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