COVID policies still key after State of Emergency ends

Businesses have been encouraged to maintain up-to-date COVID policies to manage any potential risks after WA’s State of Emergency ended today (November 4). 

Marking a major milestone in the State’s handling of the pandemic, the State Government has also revoked the Public Health State of Emergency, under the Public Health Act 2016.

The Government said basic public health advice such as mask wearing as needed, staying home if unwell, getting tested and avoiding high-risk settings until symptoms have cleared were highly recommended. 

“These measures can be adopted as a requirement through businesses’ own policies and work health and safety arrangements,” it said. 

The Government would also continue to manage COVID-19 through “appropriate policy settings, the WA Free RAT program and maintaining systems and procedures that allow for the swift re-establishment of testing and vaccination clinics, if required”. 

Some restrictions would also remain in hospitals. 

A new framework 

As part of the transition, State Parliament passed new legislation last month, which the Government said provides “a fit-for-purpose framework for WA to safely manage COVID-19 in the future, should the virus escalate and require additional levers to protect the WA community”. 

Under the Emergency Management Amendment (Temporary COVID-19 Provisions) Bill 2022, the State Emergency Coordinator could, if required, make a ‘Temporary COVID-19 Declaration’, which will only come into effect if the State Emergency Coordinator is satisfied that COVID-19 poses a risk to the safety of the community, and requires a coordinated response to prevent loss of life or harm to the health of the community.  

“If required, the framework can be used to implement measures such as mask-wearing on public transport and in other settings, isolation requirements for individuals, enhanced cruise ship protocols and prohibitions to remote Aboriginal communities,” the Government said. 

CCIWA Employee Relations Advice Centre Manager Siobhan Griffiths said it was still important for businesses to have a comprehensive policy and procedures in place to manage any potential COVID-19 risks and cases in the workplace. 

LEARN MORE: COVID-19 SAFETY PACKAGE 

“This could include working from home if an employee is unwell but well enough to work and/or is confirmed as COVID-19 positive,” she said. 

“What measures are considered reasonable will depend on the type of role and the workplace.” 

Griffiths said that businesses should be aware that under the new framework, they may be directed to close in some circumstances for the period specified in the direction. 

However, details of how this would be applied will be outlined in the regulations, which are still being developed. 

The State Government last month ended mandatory isolation for COVID-positive cases, following a decision by National Cabinet.  

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments also ceased on the same date.

 

Our Employee Relations Advice Centre is also available to respond to your questions on (08) 9365 7660, or via advice@cciwa.com.    

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