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APAL calls for workable risk-driven rules for isolation and testing

Industry Advocacy

APAL is calling on state and federal governments to urgently address labour supply shortages triggered by the myriad of Covid-19 testing, isolation, vaccination and return to work rules across the fresh produce supply chains.

“There are two obvious goals – keeping Australians safe and fed,” said APAL CEO Phil Turnbull.

“We are talking about crops with an annual harvest so the rules and decisions made this month will define the supply of fresh produce to Australian consumers right through the year to next harvest in 2023.

“Adopting a national, workable, risk-based approach to isolation and testing requirements is a key first step to securing these national supply chains and enabling them to continue to operate efficiently,” said Phil.

With a boost to the supply of rapid antigen tests anticipated later this month and into February, APAL argues the priority has to be the best use of the current limited supply of RATs.

“The risk of transmission between pickers working outdoors across an orchard is clearly different to workers in indoor roles along the supply chain. Let’s reflect these different risk levels in governments’ testing and isolation requirements – and the need, frequency and access to rapid antigen tests,” said Phil.

“Just like the state and national governments were able to agree on a nationally consistent definition prior to Christmas, every Australian now needs our governments to agree on workable requirements for isolation, and return to work for asymptomatic staff right along the supply chain from orchard to supermarket shelves,” said Phil.

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