Tasmanian Labor leader critical of lack of support for ECEC as vaccination rules change

Tasmanian Labor leader critical of lack of support for ECEC as vaccination rules change

by Freya Lucas

January 31, 2022

Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White has hit out at the sitting Tasmanian Liberal Government, saying it is “still yet to come up with a clear and workable COVID-19 safety plan” for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector with “limited and confusing information” on contingencies moving forward. 

 

Ms White’s comments came as Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein announced additional industries and sectors as being eligible for close contact quarantine exemption, including ECEC. 

 

“For weeks now childcare centres have been receiving confusing – even conflicting – information,” Ms White said, adding that she believes the Government is “failing to provide understandable COVID-safe direction about close contacts in childcare, failing to outline a plan should parents need to keep their children at home and failing to provide access to masks and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).”

 

“The childcare sector has not been given adequate information about the definition of close contacts in their centres,” she said. 

 

“Childcare sector workers have no information or limited information about when RATs will become available and with the constant stream of changing information, staff and parents are confused.”

 

ECEC workers now exempted from close contact quarantine 

 

More critical industries will benefit from greater flexibility in balancing the need to reduce COVID-19 transmission, while managing workforce shortages due to close contact quarantine requirements, Mr Gutwein explained, in line with a “glide path” approach to COVID-19.

 

To date, 128 businesses and 686 workers have been approved under these arrangements predominately in the agriculture, aquaculture freight and logistics sectors. More than 4,000 RATs have been distributed, and the system is working well.

 

The new critical industries that will qualify include health, welfare, care and support, including the production and provision of medical, pharmaceutical and health supplies. Education and childcare services, and telecommunications, data, broadcasting and media services can also apply for exemption.

 

“However, to once again be clear, this does not mean that people who are infected with COVID-19 can return to work,” the Premier said.

 

“Rather, it means close contacts of positive cases can continue to work, so long as they have no symptoms. They must also produce a negative RAT test each day for the remaining days of their isolation period, whilst back at work.”

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