Updated regulations will allow transport operators who are identified as close contacts of positive COVID cases to get back to work earlier, in an effort to relieve current pressure on the supply chain.

Now, drivers who are deemed a close contact can leave isolation provided they are asymptomatic and return a negative test.

The Australian transport, freight and logistics sector has welcomed the National Cabinet’s decision to change the regulations in light of critical supply chain issues.

Federal Assistant Minister, Scott Buchholz, said the changes from the National Cabinet meeting were the result of the government working with and listening to the needs of industry.

“We cannot keep the economy functioning and Australia moving, without a strong transport, freight and logistics sector and the workforce,” Mr Buchholz said.

“These changes will help address some of the pressures industry has been telling us about, and will enable critical workers to get back to work. 

“We are encouraged by the increase in people returning to work from the previous changes made to close contact classifications.

“I encourage all in the industry, as I know the peak bodies have done, to get vaccinated if they are not already and to book in for their booster shot when they become eligible.

“We are aware other pressures exist, but we are optimistic about the changes being made and we will keep working with industry and working to get the balance right.”

Chairman of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), David Smith, has welcomed the announcement and agreed there is more work to do. 

“Whilst the ATA agrees it is a great step forward and these changes will support our industry, the sector knows that there is no silver bullet,” Mr Smith said.

“We will continue to explore entrepreneurial ways, alongside state and federal government initiatives, through the National Cabinet process, which support the industry during this pandemic.

“Workforce shortages were a problem pre-pandemic, and the new driver apprenticeship announced last year is a longer-term approach.

“Right now, we need to find more non-traditional means of support, and I acknowledge the work the Federal Government has undertaken to address the issues and shortages pertaining to AdBlue supplies for the nation.

 “The ATA will continue to work closely with its members, state and federal governments to bring certainty to the national supply chain.”

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