Recovery gathers pace as nation heads back to work
The Weekend Australia
CBD baristas, lunch bar operators, shop keepers and suppliers are geared up and raring to go. Monday in the third week in January traditionally signals a large-scale return to work after summer holidays. This year it is more significant. Many Australians will be stepping out of the shadows of COVID-19 and returning to the workplace for the first time in nine or 10 months. The conditions are auspicious. No new cases of community transmission were recorded on Friday. The US, Britain and Europe can only envy our position. Foot traffic in the Sydney CBD increased this week; Victoria will allow 50 per cent of private sector workers and 25 per cent of public servants on site from Monday. Are the latter more delicate?
Important decisions for employers and governments lie ahead on matters such as workplace rules about vaccinations. Employers, we have reported this week, are seeking clarity. The principle of choice is important. And Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt have made it clear that COVID vaccines will not be compulsory. At the same time, employers such as nursing home operators have long insisted that staff receive an annual flu shot. A sensible, co-operative approach in individual workplaces will help.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is being proactive. In a blueprint that has been well received by Treasury, the Health Department and other business groups, it is proposing that after the inoculation of the elderly, Indigenous Australians and frontline at-risk workers, that staff in manufacturing, international education and other major export sectors receive the vaccine in the second phase, ahead of the general population. Ensuring export supply chains do not become a source of infection and allowing international travel to restart as soon as possible would make sense.
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