July 18, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Australia’s National Cabinet agreed on Saturday morning to reinstate government-funded payments to those required to isolate due to COVID infection who don’t have sick leave, which will have a significant impact on the events industry’s casual workforce.

The National Cabinet meeting was brought forward from Monday following pressure to restart the payment, which ended at the end of June, as COVID cases and hospitalisations rise around the country.

According to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, all the states and territories agreed to align on health messaging including around mask wearing and working from home, based on advice provided by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

“These include wearing masks indoors, where appropriate. When people are mixing and can’t have social distancing, then that makes sense for that to be highly encouraged,” said Albanese.

“And where people are contacts, or where it’s appropriate, for people to work from home.”

It appears the message to event organisers is to encourage delegates and attendees to wear masks at events, particularly with new Omicron variants BA 4 and 5 on the rise, dampening the effect of immunity earned from infection by previous Omicron variants earlier in 2022.

And in the interests of not exacerbating staff shortages further – bearing in mind, we’re competing with the wider hospitality industry for skilled bodies on the ground as the winter wave of COVID bites – it may be wise to reintroduce mask wearing amongst staff, or at least strongly encourage it and consider supplying free P2 or N95 masks to staff, as these are most effective in reducing the chance of catching increasingly contagious strains of COVID-19.