Businesses and schools can now implement critical worker measures

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Agricultural workers for the purpose of food supply and biosecurity are considered to be critical workers. File picture

WESTERN Australia moved to very high caseload settings from Thursday morning to ensure continuity of operations for critical industries as Covid-19 cases increased.

Yesterday WA Health reported 5005 new cases.

WA Health reported a total of 4300 new cases to 8pm last night – meaning there are currently 22,757 active cases in WA today with 103 people in hospital and five in ICU.

Up to 8pm last night the metropolitan area, which includes the City of Wanneroo recorded  3645 new cases and the Wheatbelt, which includes the Shire of Gingin 39 new cases.

The high caseload settings mean that businesses who have registered their critical workforce will have the option of implementing new testing and isolation protocols for critical workers, if needed when there is a high impact on services, to safely continue essential operations.

The definition of a critical worker in WA is someone whose role cannot be undertaken at home who:

  • Performs a role that is critical to the Covid-19 response, or continuation of critical services that prevent significant harm (e.g. loss of life, catastrophic impacts to safety or welfare, lack of access to essential goods) to an individual or the community.
  • Performs a role that is necessary for the safe continuation of services and/or has specialist skills in one of the following industries:
    • Transport, freight and logistics, including public transport;
    • Food, beverage and pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply and retail (e.g. supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies);
    • Petrol stations and truck stops;
    • Agriculture (for the purpose of food supply and biosecurity);
    • Critical resources including mining, power, utilities and waste management services;
    • Building and construction;
    • Corrective and judicial services;
    • Police and emergency services;
    • Schools (K-12) and childcare (specific protocols will be in place for these particular settings);
    • Health care services;
    • Social assistance and residential care;
    • Veterinary services; and
    • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services.

These critical workers will be required to follow the new testing and isolating protocols if they are a close contact:

  • If symptomatic, follow symptomatic close contact rules
  • If asymptomatic and you are required to work for continuity of operations, you must have a negative RAT daily
  • When working you must work with a surgical mask, use other PPE where possible, and if possible travel alone
  • When outside of work, you must self-isolate
  • If a RAT is positive, you must self-isolate for 7 days.
  • If symptoms ever develop, you must follow symptomatic close contact rules.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said now that Covid-19 cases were increasing significantly in the community steps needed to be taken, as planned, to ensure critical services could continue.

“Critical operations in areas like supermarkets, pharmacies, schools and food supply chains will be able to implement the very high caseload settings, as needed,’’ she said.

“It is intended to be a measure of last resort for critical industries when they really need it and there are strict protocols for asymptomatic critical workers to attend work.

“By making these measures available now we are striking the right balance between the risks presented by Covid-19 and maintaining critical services.’’