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Aviation vaccine mandate to require 3rd dose in NSW

written by Hannah Dowling | January 10, 2022
Virgin and Qantas 737s sit side-by-side, as shot by Victor Pody.

Aviation workers in NSW will soon be required to receive their booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, under new rules introduced by Premier Dominic Perrottet.

On Friday, the NSW premier announced that “high risk” frontline workers, including aviation workers, nurses and teachers, will soon see their existing vaccine mandate, which currently requires them to be double-jabbed against COVID-19, extended to include a third dose.

“In those circumstances we have mandated vaccinations, we will be moving to those mandates including a booster shot,” Perrottet said.

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday that national cabinet was considering changing close contact rules for frontline aviation workers, to ease pressure on understaffed industries.

Under the new national rules, aviation workers will be allowed to exit isolation and return to work, even if they have been exposed to COVID-19, as long as they are fully vaccinated and show no COVID symptoms.

The new rules will also extend to frontline health workers, food production and distribution workers, and childcare workers. It is expected that national cabinet will ratify these changes later on Monday.

The federal government has already changed the rules around what constitutes a “close contact” a number of times, in order to reduce pressure on heavily impacted industries and supply chains, to now only include household contacts, or anyone who has spent more than four hours continuously with a positive COVID case.

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Close contacts must take a COVID test and isolate for seven days, which has led to cancelled flights, as well as delayed truck deliveries and empty supermarket shelves.

It comes after dozens of flights were cancelled over the holiday period as COVID cases began to surge, sending an increasing number of aviation staff into self-isolation due to being deemed close contacts of other COVID-positive cases.

A Jetstar spokesman said at the time, “Unfortunately, like many people in Sydney and Melbourne, a large number of our frontline team are being required to test and isolate as close contacts given the increasing number of cases in the general community, and as a result, we have had to make some late adjustments to our schedule.

“We appreciate the frustration this causes, especially as customers are travelling for Christmas, and sincerely apologise for the impact these changes are having on travel plans.

“We are working to minimise any delays and re-accommodating passengers on flights as close as possible to their original departure times across both Jetstar and Qantas services.”

Meanwhile, Virgin said while it was operating hundreds of services today with little to no impact, also apologised for any passengers affected by changes.

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