BusinessNZ seeks clarity on SOP for Omicron outbreak

Clarity is being sought on the definitions of a contact, and the triggers for isolation once the Omicron strain starts spreading in the community.
By: | January 24, 2022

“If Omicron is as widespread as it has been in other parts of the world, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t be, then large numbers of people may be isolating in a reasonably short period of time,” said Kirk Hope, chief executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand’s largest business advocacy group.

Since Omicron is highly transmissible, businesses will need clear definitions of who must isolate from workplaces, and for how long. They will also need clarity on who is considered as ‘close’ and ‘casual’ contacts, and the requirements for isolation, said Hope.

“We continue to work with the government to get some clarity for business so that they can continue to operate in the face of an Omicron outbreak with a highly vaccinated population,” he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had announced recently that all of New Zealand would move into the “red” traffic light system in the event of a community outbreak of Omicron. To cope with an anticipated surge in testing when the Omicron variant begins spreading, rapid antigen tests would be used more widely.

Hope welcomed the government’s plan to move to “red” rather than into lockdowns, which will allow business activities to continue during an outbreak, but with restricted gathering numbers.

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As such, businesses needed to know what support they could obtain from the government if a large proportion of the workplace was isolating due to an Omicron case, he said, according to Stuff.