RATs and No Toilet Paper
A visit to our local supermarket instantly tells you there are significant COVID caused constraints on our national supply chain. The transport, freight, warehousing, retail, and construction industries are experiencing severe staff shortages.
It is hoped that with the peak in Omicron infections expected shortly that infection rates will decrease sharply which will then ease pressure on the supply chain and staff shortages. The National Retailers Association (NRA) reports that staff are returning to work at about two percent a day. There is no doubt that the recent easing of the close contact rules in some industries is positive, but far more relaxation and rule changes is required to solve the problem.
Central to the problem is the shortage of RATs. Until these tests become plentiful and cheap workers will remain unable to meet the exemption requirements and return to the workplace. Without staff, business have no option but to seriously curtail their activities or, worse still, close their doors.
The Australian Chamber for Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has called for an extension to all workers of the close contact protocol as many employees are unable to return to the work even if they receive a negative RAT result and display no symptoms. Clear national guidelines are required.
In the background to the labour shortages and supply chain disruption is the question of the resumption of mass migration to meet the skills and labour shortages. For two years our national border has been closed to migrants and temporary workers such as backpackers. Closed borders has deprived the economy of a critical source of people and workers and threatens to curtail the recovery of the economy post Omicron.
It is hoped that our leaders at the federal and state level can devise a national, clear and sensible policy to facilitate the rapid return of workers to their work and the desperately needed repair to the supply chain. Well, at least we can hope!