Mandatory isolation rules to be scrapped; Business travel set to fly

Mandatory isolation periods for COVID-19 will be scrapped from October 14 following a unanimous decision by the national cabinet, paving the way for business travel confidence to return.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and state and territory leaders agreed people with COVID-19 will no longer be subject to a five-day stay-at-home order following Friday’s meeting at Parliament House.

The changes will come into effect from October 14.

The isolation period, however, will still apply to employees in vulnerable settings, such as hospital workers and those in aged care.

The decision to eliminate the mandatory isolation period will also mean the end of pandemic leave payments for affected workers from October 14.

The payments that remain for workers in vulnerable settings would be split 50-50 between the Commonwealth and the states and territories.

Commenting on the news, Flight Center Business Travel General Manager Cameron Harris said the annoucement would see corporate travel in Australia fly as certainty returns to the business world.

“This is a landmark day for travel and an incredibly important junction for SMEs and large markets wanting to travel for business – this will give corporations the confidence to fly knowing the risk of potential late changes will be gone,” he said.

“We’ve already seen a steep recovery with people wanting to get back to seeing their employees, their clients, and their prospects – the relevance of face-to-face travel has never been more critical than it is now.

“Businesses will see this as the final hurdle removed from them being able to really take off and get back to doing what they do best – going out there and being the backbone of our economy. We look forward to servicing our customers through the post-COVID era.”

The wider retail sector and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also welcomed the decision to end isolation measures.

Chamber chief executive Andrew McKellar said the changes were common sense.

“Today, Australia has turned a corner in its approach to living with the virus,” he said.

“Importantly, these changes balance the relaxation of restrictions while also protecting the most vulnerable.”

While Australian Retail Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the timing was right for the removal.

“Today’s decision will be a welcome relief for businesses who’ve been unable to trade at their full potential due to staff absence,” he said.

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