Possibility of exemption for hospitality staff 'something we're looking at'

Exemption for hospitality staff a possibility: Deputy premier

THE NSW Government could consider an isolation exemption for hospitality workers, deputy premier Paul Toole says.

It comes as the hospitality industry faces significant staffing shortages as workers are forced to isolate after being deemed a close contact or testing positive for COVID-19 themselves.

Businessman Ash Lyons told ACM this week that there are times his businesses are "one staff member away from shutting down".

He called for hospitality workers get an exemption like the one critical workers in the food and logistics and manufacturing sectors have.

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Workers identified as close contacts can leave self-isolation if they test negative on a rapid antigen test (RAT) and are asymptomatic.

Mr Paul Toole, who is currently in isolation after testing positive for COVID, said it is something that could be considered for workers in the hospitality industry.

"The hospitality industry, like many others, has faced huge challenges around staff shortages that have been caused by workers having to isolate," he said.

"We know there have been isolation exemptions given to the food and manufacturing sector, and it is something we're looking at as to whether it can be expended into other areas.

"Our first priority, though, is to ensure that we keep the community safe and protect them as best possible."

He said the topic could be discussed at this week's national cabinet meeting.

In the meantime, he encouraged people to shop locally where possible to help prevent businesses from having to shut their doors.

He also noted some of the government's initiatives to support small business.

"The government knows the hospitality industry has been doing it tough. That's why we've introduced the alfresco restart rebate that provides businesses with the opportunity of up to $5000 in rebates to create, expand or upgrade their outdoor dining areas," he said.

There are also more Dine and Discover vouchers available.