Changes to close contact exemption rules now include more industries with 10 per cent of the working population unable to work due to Covid.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the changes to close contact rules — which allows people to return to work without isolating once they return a negative RAT result — have been extended to multiple industries.
Mr Morrison said the Commonwealth was lifting the isolation rule for certain workers if identified as close contacts if they returned negative RATs.
This extends to: transport, freight and logistics employees, food logistics, all healthcare and support, emergency services, including law enforcement, correctional services, energy resources and water, waste management, food, beverage and other critical good supplies (but not hospitality), telecommunication, data, broadcasting and media.
Stopping everyone from getting Covid not practical
Mr Morrison said stopping everyone from getting the virus "is not the objective".
"That is not a realistic objective and not practical. Nowhere in the world are they trying to achieve that.
That is not something that we are trying to achieve. What we’re trying to achieve is to ensure that we can keep hospitals under the least pressure that can possibly be put on them.
That we can maintain the strength of hospitals during this pandemic and recognise that, of course, our hospitals and health systems are under significant strain at the present. That is unavoidable.
"The goal is not to stop everyone in the country from getting Covid, the goal is to protect our hospitals and keep our society and economy functioning as we ride this latest wave of Omicron," he said on Thursday.
Treasury officials told national cabinet that up to 10 per cent of the workforce could be absent from their job due to the virus.
That figure could rise to as high as 15 per cent of the total workforce if schools were unable to open due to the virus.
"That's the impact of a highly contagious infection and virus," Mr Morrison said.
"That's going to have an inevitable impact on the workforce and that has to be managed."
Covid parties are 'ridiculous': Morrison
Mr Morrison slammed people purposely getting infected by attending 'Covid parties', calling them "ridiculous."
"Reinfection on Omicron can occur," Mr Morrison said.
"All this nonsense about Covid parties, it is ridiculous. Reinfection can occur with Omicron.
"So if you think you can go out there and get the virus and get it over with, that is not how it works. That is not how the virus is writing the rules.
"Continue to take precautions, continue to exercise common sense, continue to be responsible."
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