Changes To The Covid-19 Restrictions

Key Member Takeaways

  • New definition and obligation of a “diagnosed person”.

  • New definition of a “close contact”.

  • New requirements for Rapid Antigen Test (“RAT”).

  • New exception to isolation requirements for a “critical worker” and “close contact”.

  • Mandatory notification requirement announced for a positive RAT effective 12 January 2022.

1. Pursuant to the updated Public Health Order (“PHO”) published today, the following testing and isolation requirements are applicable:


Diagnosed person
Defined as a person who:

  1. notified by or on behalf on NSW Health or a pathology laboratory the person has tested positive to COVID-19 via a PCR test, or

  2. has become aware the person has tested positive to COVID-19 as a result of a RAT.

7 days isolation (at the person’s residence or a place determined by the authorities) commencing on the day of testing.
Unless otherwise advised, a person may leave isolation after 7 days without a further COVID-19 test.
People in this category must take precautions (mask etc) and avoid high risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care for a further 3 days.
Must take reasonable steps to notify:

  • the diagnosed person’s employer or a person who engages the diagnosed person as a contractor for services,

  • any person who resides with the diagnosed person,

  • any person who has been in contact with the diagnosed person in a way that might result in the person being at risk of developing COVID-19 as identified in the Testing Positive to COVID-19 Factsheet,

  • Service NSW, only if the diagnosed person is tested positive to COVID-19 via a RAT (instead of a PCR). The notification must be made by using the online form available for that purpose on the Service NSW website, or in another way approved by Service NSW. See paragraph 6 below for additional information announced in the NSW press conference today.

  • if the diagnosed person is a student—the head of the diagnosed person’s educational institution or a staff member identified by the institution for receiving notifications of COVID-19 cases.

See also exceptions in paragraph 4 below.

Close contacts
Defined as:

  • a person notified by an authorised contact tracer as:

    • likely to have come into contact with a person with COVID-19, and

    • at risk of developing COVID-19.

  • A person who resides with a diagnosed person

7 days isolation from the day of exposure and obtain a PCR/RAT test as soon as possible. If positive, follow the isolation requirements of a diagnosed person. If negative, obtain a negative RAT or PCR test on day 6.
High risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care should be avoided for a further 7 days.
If the person in isolation is unable to obtain a RAT due to supply shortages, such person can obtain a PCR test instead or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
See also exceptions in paragraphs 4 and 5 below.

All other contacts

Monitor for symptoms and if symptoms develop, undertake a RAT or PCR test. If positive, follow the self-isolation requirements of a diagnosed person.

If you have symptoms

Obtain a RAT or PCR test if you have symptoms at any time. If positive, follow the self-isolation requirements of a diagnosed person.

2.      “Self-isolation” means a person must:
(a)     not leave the residence or place except—
(i)      for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies, or
(ii)      in another emergency situation, and
(b)     not permit another person to enter the residence or place unless—
(i)      the other person usually lives at the residence or place or the other person is also complying with a direction under the Public Health Order, or
(ii)      the entry is for medical or emergency purposes, or
(iii)     the person in self-isolation is a person with a disability to whom supports are provided and the entry is for the purposes of providing essential support services, or
(iv)     the person in self-isolation is an aged care consumer and the entry is for the purposes of providing essential support services, or
(v)     the entry is to a place, other than a residence, for the purposes of delivering food or essential items, and
(c)     otherwise comply with the NSW Health self-isolation guideline.

3.      Employers are required to notify SafeWork NSW if becoming aware that a worker
a)      is diagnosed with COVID-19;
b)      contracted COVID-19, or is likely to have contracted COVID-19, at the workplace; or
c)      attended the workplace while infected with COVID-19.
4.      Exemption for a critical worker: A household contact or close contact who is critical worker is exempted from the above isolation requirements for the purpose of attending work subject to the following conditions:
(a)     Critical workers must only attend work if approved by or on behalf of their employer for the purpose of the exemption.
(b)     Critical workers must travel directly to and from their home and their workplace(s). They cannot leave home for other purposes.
(c)     Critical workers must wear a mask at all times in the workplace, unless eating or drinking or if the mask needs to be removed for safety reasons.
(d)     Critical workers must undergo daily rapid antigen tests (RATs) for a period of 7 days from when they last had contact with the diagnosed person, and must notify their employer of each result.
(e)     Any person who tests positive for COVID-19 following a RAT must immediately self-isolate for 7 days.
(f)      Notwithstanding a negative RAT result, if a critical worker develops any symptoms of COVID-19, they must immediately self-isolate and may only return to work with evidence of a negative PCR test taken after the onset of symptoms.
(g)     Critical workers must comply with any other reasonable measures put in place by their employer to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (see below).
(h)     The Critical Worker is engaged to perform or provide the following services:
(i)      agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)
(ii)      manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)
(iii)     transport, postal and warehousing (food logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment).
More information on the exemption for critical workers can be accessed by clicking here.

5.      Exemption for a close contact: A close contact is exempted from the isolation requirements in paragraph 2 above if:
(a)     the close contact has already been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has completed the requirement to reside at the close contact’s residence, or a hospital or another place for 7 days (a self-isolation period), and
(b)     it is no more than 28 days since the close contact ‘s self-isolation period ended.
6)      Additional information on the mandatory notification requirement for a positive RAT by a diagnosed person was announced during the NSW press conference today, which states that effective 12 January 2022 you must report a positive rapid antigen test result:
(a)     within 24 hours of getting the result; and
(b)     every time you get a positive result.
Even though the current PHO has not been amended to include this additional information, Members are to be aware that failure to comply with this mandatory notification requirement may result in a $1,000 fine. Visit the Service NSW website for more information.

If a Member has any question or query then please contact the MTA NSW Employment Relations team at P: (02) 9016 9000 or at E: [email protected]

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