Children are back at school, people are returning to the workplace, borders have opened and … Covid-19 is running rampant across the country.
Vaccinations and RAT testing
As part of the plan for moving forward, double-vaccinations are required in many circumstances, and so is Rapid Antigen Testing.
In recent days the Supreme Court of New South Wales has introduced new measures to protect the health and safety of courthouse workers, as well as legal teams, witnesses, the accused, and juries. It is creating ‘trial bubbles’ and aiming to keep these bubbles Covid-free.
As part of the new measures, everyone, whether a member of the prosecution or the criminal defence team, or a jury, will need to be at least double-vaccinated. The only possible exemptions are the defendant (the accused), or any person specifically permitted by the trial judge. Everyone involved in a trial bubble will be asked to undergo RAT screening regularly for the duration of the trial.
In the local court, many cases are still being resolved, where possible, via video link or other technologies such as telephone conferencing and email. However, if you think you need to attend court in person, check with your legal representative or the court you are due to attend about what Covid-19 health and safety protocols are in place before you go.
Many private businesses have their own workplace vaccination policies too. And of course, the industry mandates set by the Government (for aged care workers, teachers, and construction workers for example) remain in place.
Keep a supply of RATs at home
With regard to RAT testing, the rules are still changing. For example, school children are currently required to be tested twice per week. Anyone not feeling well, suspecting they may have Covid-19 is also required to test. You can get a PCR test from a laboratory or testing centre, or you can test at home. It would be wise to purchase a few tests, so you can have them on hand at home.
RATs have been in short supply, but they are slowly becoming more available. Be aware of price gouging – you should expect to pay around $10 per test – and if you’re a pensioner or receiving Centrelink payments, ask about concessions – you may be able to purchase RAT tests more cheaply.
Failing to report a positive RAT will result in a fine
It is a criminal offence in New South Wales not to report a positive Covid-19 result. Earlier this year the New South Wales Government introduced a new public health regulation which stipulates that failing to report a positive test will result in a $1,000 fine.
As we have mentioned before, once you get a fine, it is not always easy to challenge. Statistics released just prior to Christmas showed that more than 7,000 people sought reviews of Covid fines they had been issued last year – and most had failed to have the fines annulled.
There are more than 3,000 people still waiting for the outcome of a review.
You can request a review via Revenue NSW (this is the state body responsible for issuing fines, managing fines and collecting payments) and if you are unhappy with the result, you can take the matter to court.
But with local courts significantly backlogged as a result of the pandemic, it could take some months to resolve your particular case, which can mean prolonged stress.
Aside from avoiding a fine, the other very good reason for ensuring that you report a positive RAT result – which you can do through the NSW Services App – is that you will be directed to local health services.
Health experts say that many people will be able to successfully manage Covid-19 at home, with appropriate advice from medical professionals about what to do, and what to look out for in terms of symptom severity so that you can get to hospital for specialist treatment if and when you need to.
With Covid still very present, it’s important to keep up to date with requirements for wearing masks, QR check ins, along with other advice about Rapid Antigen Testing, vaccination requirements, social distancing etc etc etc.
New treatments are coming, a new vaccination has also been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association, but we are now officially ‘living with Covid’ so while many of our freedoms have returned and life feels like it might be getting back to some kind of ‘normal’, the Public Health Regulations are still in force.
You can stay informed via Services NSW which has extensive information – about current rules, financial support for business, and how to report a positive RAT test if you need to, and much more. It is an excellent resource to bookmark so you can stay informed.
This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.
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