Next time I pop in to see a Member I promise I’ll call in advance! What kind of fool visits between Xmas and New Year anyway?
“Welcome” to the New Year
I wish I could sound enthused about the exciting year ahead, but with Dodge-the-Omicron the main game in town it’s hard to feel anything but a bit jaded. And yep, it’s only the beginning of January.
As you’d know, testing and isolation requirements, and close contact definitions, are changing by the minute as the Government scrambles to manage the giant mess we’re in (not drowning, waving?). I am not going to even try to provide updates on this, because as soon as I do it’ll be out of date. However… my research skills are great and I have good “Google-fu” so if there’s anything you need to know please get in touch and I will try to help you out.
Because of the current climate, our Bus SAfe program won’t be starting up at the beginning of Term 1 after all. We have a meeting with Education next week to reevaluate. It’s disappointing, but entirely understandable. It may be a while before non-essential persons are able to enter school grounds.
I have a feeling this will be a tough year for us all and from we here at Bus SA, your membership and ongoing support of the Bus and Coach industry in our State is more valued than ever.
Buckle up and stay safe folks! Warm regards,
Back to school
Yesterday the Marshall Government announced a staggered return to school for students in SA.
Under the plan, students in key year levels (Pre-school, Reception, One, Seven, Eight and 12) will head back to face-to-face learning at school on Wednesday February 2.
Other year levels will begin their school year learning from home from Wednesday 2 February and will be back in the classroom on Monday 14 February.
See the Government’s media release here.
I have a request in to the Dept for Education for advice about whether there will be any financial ramifications of this for school bus operators. As soon as I hear anything at all I will let you know.
RAT tests and Federal financial support
From Ian MacDonald at APTIA
It is with some trepidation that I am providing this latest Covid 19 update (my first for the year). This is because the guidelines seem to change daily.
Governments, both State and Federal, have clearly lost control of the Agenda and are only firing from the hip in an attempt to contain a spooked constituency. Members must continue to assess the health and welfare risk to your workforce in the face of this uncertainty.
Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT)
Currently Safe Work Australia and the National Cabinet are considering guidelines for the use and outcomes for RATs. This is important for your risk assessments as it may become a requirement in any risk assessment to not only consider double vaccination for employees, but also regular RATs as it has become clear that vaccination does not prevent the spread of the virus.
At this stage, the guidance materials highlight the following issues in relation to trying to implement a RAT program in workplaces:
- primacy of public health orders
- impact of supply constraints of RATs, and that this may change over time
- importance of consultation with workers
- If the costs of rapid antigen testing would be grossly disproportionate to the risk, you would be unlikely to be required to implement testing as part of your control measures.
From Monday 10 January 2022, in line with the changes to testing requirements, RAT results are accepted in addition to PCR results. People will need to have advice of a positive test from a testing clinic or health professional or evidence that they have registered a positive result from a home-administered RAT with their state health authority.
Effective from 18 January 2022, people who have lost at least a day of work because they are isolating due to being COVID-19 positive, caring for someone who is COVID-19 positive or meet the definition of a close contact may be eligible for up to $750.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment will be scaled based on the number of hours of work the individual has lost or expects to lose during an isolation period of up to seven days:
- Individuals who have lost or expect to lose 20 hours or more will continue to be entitled to $750.
- Individuals have lost or expect to lose at least a day of work or up to 19 hours will be entitled to $450.
- A financial hardship test will also be introduced with individuals who have available funds of $10,000 or more ineligible to ensure the taxpayer funded payments are targeted to those who need them most.
Minister McKenzie has also announced that the Commonwealth Disaster Payments, which are $1,000 for adults and $400 for children, have been activated. There’s also the Disaster Recovery Allowance for those who’ve had income impacted, which is a payment for up to 13 weeks at the JobSeeker rate.
Tourism, hospitality and gym grant (State)
The South Australian Government has now announced the guidelines for the Tourism, Hospitality, and Gym grant, introduced for businesses impacted by restrictions put in place on 27 December 2021. These packages cover the two-week period from 27 December to 9 January inclusive.
Businesses can access two grants, if eligible:
- an automatic payment, and
- a turnover-based payment, which needs to be applied for.
Those who previously received the COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant should have already received the automatic payment, but can also apply for the turnover-based payment.
If you did not previously apply for and receive a COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support grant, you are still eligible for the turnover-based payment, and you will receive an additional payment matching the automatic payment.
Applications close on 31st March.
Business hardship grant (State)
On 31 December 2021, the Government of South Australia established the Business Hardship Grant to provide assistance to businesses impacted by health restrictions in place from 27 December 2021, but are not eligible for the tourism, hospitality and gym grants.
Eligible employing businesses will be provided with a once-off $6,000 grant.
A further grant of $2,000 will be available for eligible businesses that operate from a commercial premise located in the Adelaide CBD.