The Government today released new advice about the use of rapid antigen tests for business when the country moves to phase two of its the plan for dealing with the Omicron variant. You can see the announcement here.
The Government has set up a new ‘close contact exemption scheme’ for ‘critical services’ including food production and its supply chain. The scheme provides businesses with a way of bringing staff subject to close contact isolation back into the workplace if they return daily negative rapid antigen tests.
NZPPI members involved in food plant production can register with the close contact exemption scheme now.
NZPPI members not involved in food plant production will operate under the general rules for the Red traffic light setting. Businesses will continue to work with their local DHB to make decisions around isolation periods following a positive Covid case in the workplace or when a worker is deemed a close contact. The new Omicron framework includes an option for close contacts to work as a ‘bubble of one’, which will reduce absences from work.
Bubbles of One
In addition to the exemption scheme, people who either work alone, or have the capacity to do so, will be able to continue operating in a 'bubble of one' if they are identified as a contact. Individuals can work in bubbles of one as long as they:
- Are vaccinated and don’t have Covid symptoms
- Don’t have contact with anyone else either indoors or outdoors
- Use a medical mask at all times
- Comply with any infection prevention and control protocols at work
- Travel solo, to, from and around work or between jobs (the worker cannot use public transport)
- Use a dedicated workplace bathroom (if this is not possible, no others should be present in the bathroom while the worker is using it).
These guidelines apply to any workers, not just critical workers, and do not require them to return regular tests. We recommend establishing as many bubbles of one in your workplace as possible. It will mean fewer staff isolating at home at any one time.
NZPPI continues to work with MPI and DHBs to highlight the need for the continuation of plant production critical activities and to ensure that Omicron isolation rules do not negatively impact plant health.