Transport alliance forms to push for subsidized rapid antigen testing
An alliance of leading transportation organizations and unions has formed to call on state and federal governments to fund a program that allows small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to purchase rapid antigen tests for their staff.
A funding mechanism for rapid antigen testing could boost business confidence in struggling industries, protect supply chains already under heavy pressure, and help maintain high numbers of tests as more and more Australians are fully vaccinated, the consortium said in a press release.
“As large sections of the Australian community move into a new phase of life with the virus, it will be critical to keep workplaces safe and small businesses open and avoid unnecessary instant shutdowns as they rebuild,” said the spokesperson.
âMany cases of community transmission of Covid-19 occur in SMEs, posing a risk to the health of workers, customers and the small business owner. “
From November 1, nine rapid antigen tests are available for all Australians to buy in supermarkets, pharmacies and online.
The Transportation Alliance believes employers have a duty under occupational health and safety laws to eliminate and minimize the risk of exposure to Covid-19 to the extent possible.
âRapid antigen testing (RAT) is an essential tool for workplaces to identify Covid-19 before it enters the workplace.
“With a clear, national and standardized approach and the necessary financial support for workers who test positive, RATs will keep workers safe, break chains of transmission and help small businesses open up.”
Modeling from Pathology Technology Australia suggests that the cost of supervised rapid antigenic testing will be between $ 18 and $ 49 per test, while unsupervised testing could cost $ 20 per test, both depending on the quantities purchased.
âFor effective use of rapid antigen tests, studies suggest they should be done at least every three days. Repeating the tests two to three times a week has been shown to be as accurate as PCR testing, but represents a substantial cost to swallow for SMBs and would likely deter people from continuing testing, even in high-risk environments.
The alliance said the transportation industry is also facing a supply chain nightmare with strict and disparate border testing mandates causing angst and financial burdens across the industry. .
âSmall businesses and workers are hoping the need for strict lockdowns will be faded into history, but the risk of overcrowded hospitals and restrictions on return is real. If a state were to reimpose restrictions in the future, the cost to the economy would be devastating.
“We urgently call on federal and state governments to work with small business groups, labor unions and the transportation industry to fund rapid antigen testing for small businesses.”
Other parts of the world, including the UK, Singapore and a number of countries in Europe, are funding these tests to help them with their responses to Covid, the alliance added.
âWe can’t afford to be at the back of the pack; we have to be preventive, not reactive.
Council of Small Business Organizations Australia CEO Alexi Boyd said if rapid antigen testing is prohibitive, small businesses simply won’t use it.
âProviding funds to access these tests will give small businesses confidence that they can stay open while providing a safe environment for their workers and their community. “
- Council of Small Business Organizations Australia
- Australian Council of Trade Unions
- Pathology Technology Australia
- Transport workers union
- NSW Road Freight
- Federation of Western Roads
- Victorian Transport Association
- Australian Road Transport Industrial Organization
- Australian Industrial Road Transport Organization of New South Wales
- Queensland Trucking Association Ltd