The Transport Workers Union of Australia (TWU) says opening borders without a COVID-safe plan is “reckless”, urging the Federal government to implement rapid antigen testing in aviation.
It comes as NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced today that from 1 November, double-jabbed international arrivals will no longer be required to complete any form of hotel or home quarantine.
The union, which represents over 90,000 transport workers across Australia, has warned that without quarantine or rapid testing, the virus will spread quickly and plunge the industry back into a shutdown.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said after 20 months of “debilitating shutdowns and stand downs”, every safety measure should be taken.
“We all want to see international flights resume, but scrapping quarantine requirements without a plan to COVID-safe the industry isn’t learning to live with the virus; it’s reckless,” Kaine added.
The TWU is urging rapid testing to be rolled out industry-wide to mitigate the inevitable chances of cases rising as borders open.
Premiere Perrottet did note that additional advice on possible testing requirements for overseas arrivals will be provided “in the coming days”.
“Several positive COVID cases have been linked to aviation throughout the pandemic,” the union said.
Earlier this week, passengers on a flight between Brisbane and Sydney were declared close contacts after a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on board.
Numerous similar situations have occurred during the pandemic, sometimes leading to hundreds of passengers forced to isolate for 14 days.
“The last thing aviation workers need is for domestic transmission linked to international arrivals to shut the network down again,” Kaine added.
“The Prime Minister must commit to government-funded rapid testing across the network immediately… Scott Morrison needs to act on this today.”
Premiere Perrottet’s announcement came as NSW is set to hit its 80 per cent second dose vaccination target earlier than expected, on Monday, 18 October.
According to the union, last month it called on the Prime Minister to adopt its COVID-Safe National Transport Roadmap, which included calls for government-funded antigen testing for aviation workers and passengers.
It is backed by Professor Adrian Esterman, an epidemiologist from the University of South Australia.
He said it [COVID-Safe Transport Roadmap] “is a major step forward, and if implemented, would greatly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus”.