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COVID Update – 7 August 2021

Aug 7, 2021COVID19

Dear Members,

Still no good news on the horizon as the NSW Covid-19 outbreak goes from bad to worse. Today cases exceeded 300 with many cases infectious in the community meaning that these numbers are likely to continue to rise.

New Lockdown LGAs

At 5pm on Thursday additional Local Government Areas (LGAs) across Newcastle and the Hunter Region followed Greater Sydney into lockdown after a series of positive cases were identified.

The LGAs include: 

  1. City of Newcastle, 
  2. Port Stephens, 
  3. Lake Macquarie, 
  4. Maitland, 
  5. Cessnock, 
  6. Dungog, 
  7. Singleton, and 
  8. Muswellbrook

 At 11am today, the NSW Government also announced the Armidale LGA would also go into a snap lockdown.

If you live or have been in any of these LGAs since 31 July 2021, you are subject to stay at home orders and can only leave your home with a reasonable excuse. Importantly for members, a reasonable excuse includes attending work if you cannot do that work from home.

Vaccines and Rapid Testing for Frontline Transport Workers

On Friday, we were advised by Transport for NSW that are looking into finding a provider to ensure that frontline transport workers can have dedicated access to COVID 19 vaccination. This is welcome news, but considering the nature of our work, it is unclear why it hasn’t happened earlier.

We were also told that rapid saliva testing is on its way as a further mechanism to help reduce the possibility of transmission as a result of us having to continue to travel across the community for our essential work.

Basic Control Measures

The issue of basic control measures has raised its head again after it was raised by Station Staff across the network at the start of the outbreak. 

We have also heard reports that some buses in the Greater Sydney Region continue to operate in service without a safety screen to protect the driver from fleeting transmission events when passengers get on or off the bus. This is a basic control that should be on every vehicle and we put it to Transport that buses without safety screens should be taken out of service. 

Mask Wearing

The RTBU has called on Transport for NSW to take steps to enforce mask wearing on public transport.  Reports today told us that 335 infringements had been issued with quite a few in the Newcastle Region. 

Given that this outbreak does not appear to be easing, it’s so important that every control possible is put in place now to ensure our safety at work. If you have any concerns about a lack of safety controls, please raise it with your manager and let your delegate/ organiser know that you have done so.

It’s always important that we look out for our health and safety at work but given the current pandemic it’s even more important. 

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