More critical industries will benefit from greater flexibility in balancing the need to reduce COVID-19 transmission, while managing workforce shortages due to close contact quarantine requirements.
This is in line with our commitment to take a glide-path approach to this issue, which is allowing us to step through this in a safe and responsible way.
To date, 128 businesses and 686 workers have been approved under these arrangements predominately in the agriculture, aquaculture freight and logistics sectors.
More than 4000 RATs have been distributed, and the system is working well.
The new critical industries that will qualify include health, welfare, care and support, including the production and provision of medical, pharmaceutical and health supplies.
This includes pharmacy workers critical to operations, veterinary and animal welfare services, end of life services, dental services, and critical welfare support services.
Education and childcare services, and telecommunications, data, broadcasting and media services can also apply for exemption.
The process for applying will remain the same as it is now and while the Public Health Direction is still being finalised, we expect applications will open from 12pm Friday.
However, to once again be clear, this does not mean that people who are infected with COVID-19 can return to work.
Rather, it means close contacts of positive cases can continue to work, so long as they have no symptoms.
They must also produce a negative RAT test each day for the remaining days of their isolation period, whilst back at work.
While this system is working well, we will continue to monitor it closely as we work through the ongoing transition to living with COVID, just as we do with other respiratory diseases like the flu.