Editor’s note: NSW Health has updated its vaccination and testing requirements for workers, which you can read about here. Workers now have until September 6 to receive their first vaccine and there is not longer the option to be tested instead.
Tougher public health rules affecting workers in Sydney’s 12 hotspot suburbs are coming into effect this weekend, including vaccination, testing and permit requirements.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the new rules last Friday when she extended Greater Sydney’s lockdown to the end of September, announcing a 9pm curfew in hotspot suburbs as well as further restrictions on businesses.
“In terms of the local government areas of concern, I can’t stress enough that we feel for you, we’ve imposed a lot of restrictions on you already, but we don’t want to see more of you end up in hospital, ” Berejiklian said at the time.
Here is everything you need to know about the new rules.
What are the new rules?
From August 28
From Saturday, August 28, authorised workers from local government areas of concern (LGA) are required to carry a permit from Service NSW declaring that they are an authorised worker and cannot work from home.
Also from Saturday, August 28, anyone entering an LGA of concern for the purpose of work must carry a worker permit issued by Service NSW.
From August 30
Starting Monday, August 30, authorised workers who work outside their LGA of concern are only permitted to work if rapid antigen testing is available at their workplace or they have had their first vaccination dose.
Childcare workers and disability support workers who live or work in the LGAs of concern must have received their first vaccination dose.
Where are the local government areas of concern?
There are currently 12 LGAs of concern including Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield and some suburbs of Penrith.
Who are authorised workers?
There are 13 sectors that have authorised workers, including administrative and support services, agriculture, construction, education, electricity, gas, water and waste services, and financial services.
The NSW government has also identified authorised workers in health care and social assistance, information media and telecommunications, manufacturing, parliament, public administration, retail trade, transport, and postal and warehousing services.
Check the details for your industry at this NSW government website as not all workers within each sector are considered authorised.
For example, in retail trade, an authorised worker is a someone employed or engaged to work at a:
- Supermarkets and neighbourhood shops;
- Shops that sell food or drinks;
- Chemists and pharmacies;
- Shops that sell office supplies, pet supplies, newspapers, magazines, alcohol, baby supplies, or medical supplies;
- Hardware and building supplies stores;
- Landscaping material supplies stores;
- Rural supplies stores;
- Timber yards;
- Garden centres and plant nurseries;
- Vehicle hire premises;
- Industrial or commercial food retailers; and
- Fuel retailers.
Where can you get a permit?
Registrations for the permits are not yet open. They should, however, open soon at this Service NSW website.
What are the problems?
The vaccination requirement is expected to cause disruptions to supermarkets and fast food businesses, such as staff shortages.
Many authorised workers in the fast food and retail industries have not had the chance to become vaccinated. In Sydney’s 12 LGAs of concern, Pfizer vaccinations for residents aged 16 to 39 opened about one week ago.
Meanwhile, businesses that have rapid antigen testing capabilities will not have to ensure their workers are vaccinated. Smaller businesses and franchisees, however, are unlikely to have the resources to offer on-site testing.
Helen Waldron, NSW head at Australian Industry Group, has reportedly called for the government to be lenient with businesses that have not put systems in place by the deadline.
“The requirements come with a very tight time frame and government should show some flexibility in terms of when it will enforce the new measures,” she said.