Isolation exemption for some critical workers

Critical workers in the food logistics and manufacturing sectors who are close contacts will be permitted to leave self-isolation to attend work if they have no symptoms of COVID-19, to ensure the state has continued access to essential goods.

Workers will only be eligible to leave self-isolation if their employer determines that their absence from the workplace poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities, and they are unable to work from home. These workers must wear a mask and comply with risk-management strategies put in place by their employer, including daily Rapid Antigen Tests. Any worker who tests positive or who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate.

The new rules apply to critical workers in the following sectors:

  • agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)

  • manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)

  • transport, postal and warehousing (food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment).

The exemption from the isolation rules for close contacts also applies to emergency services workers who are necessary for the delivery of critical services and who cannot work from home.

Rapid Antigen Testing and reporting

If you have any symptoms, you should stay at home and test. The supply of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) is expected to improve by early next week. In the meantime you might find the following website useful:

If you receive a positive rapid antigen test, you should consider yourself to be a positive case and should isolate for 7 days. You are required to report your case to NSW health via Service NSW.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID and are not symptomatic at the end of your isolation period, then you are not required to self-isolate again if another member of your household tests positive.

Read more: What to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

The following measures are in place across NSW:

Masks are compulsory for people over the age of 12 in all non-residential indoor settings in NSW, with the mandate staying in place until at least January 27.

  • No singing or dancing will be permitted in hospitality venues, excluding weddings

  • Major events will be permitted to continue throughout January

  • Non-urgent elective surgery has been suspended until mid-February

  • The one-person per 2 square metre density rule applies for indoor hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes.

  • QR code check-ins will continue until further notice

  • There will be no further easing of capacity limits on public transport services in the state until late January. Transport services are operating at 75 per cent capacity.

The state is also procuring rapid antigen tests to be used by residents in cases where a “gold standard” PCR test is not necessary. PCR tests should still be used by people who are symptomatic or who are a close contact of a confirmed COVID case.

For more information:

More questions?

The Sonder team is here 24/7 to provide advice and assistance. We can answer any questions you might have about symptoms, testing or vaccinations, help give you guidance on financial support available, and much more. Chat with us anytime.

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