Mandatory Covid-19 isolation periods reduced to five days

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the mandatory isolation period for Covid-19 positive cases will be reduced from seven to five days.

The changes will come into effect from Friday, 9 September, with the Paid Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment to also reflect the shortened isolation period.

Symptomatic patients will still be required to isolate for the full seven days as will workers in high-risk settings, including aged care, disability care, and home care.

“Clearly, if you have symptoms, we want people to stay home, we want people to act responsibly,” said the PM.

Prime Minister Albanese said the changes reflect the latest advice presented by Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd and that there are no intentions to reduce the isolation period to zero days at this stage.

The Prime Minister also flagged that First Minsters had discussed ongoing workforce and skills shortages that are impacting our economy and impacting businesses’ ability to operate.

“We had a constructive discussion and agreed on a vision statement and guiding principles for a new National Skills Agreement that will come into effect in 2024,” he said.

Theo Foukkare, CEO, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), says the reduced mandatory isolation period will provide a welcome relief to short-staffed retailers, but that more support is urgently needed.

He said that given the current environment of extreme labour challenges the industry is experiencing, this will be one tool that will assist in bringing staff back online more quickly.

“Retailers around the country are telling me their number one issue remains the inability to have adequate staffing levels to operate at normal levels. Existing staff are being stretched to the maximum every day, so the ability to bring staff back two days earlier is welcome news.

“Now we urgently need the Federal Government to speed up visa processing times for students and overseas travellers, to open up migration to support the immediate labour shortages and develop the longer term plan to skill more Australians to want to work.

“I am awaiting to see some of the immediate actions coming out of the Jobs and Skills Summit that might be able to help with the labour shortages. Let’s hope it’s not just a talk test focused on long term thinking that will take years to implement – our retailers need help now.”

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