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Purchasing RATs could cost businesses $45m a week in this state

Access to Rapid Antigen Tests as a first line of defence for staff could cost Queensland businesses $45 million a week.

New Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) economic modelling shows unless Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are freely and widely available, close to 120,000 businesses in Queensland will spend $45.1 million every week to protect more than 1.5 million employees across the state.

CCIQ Policy and Advocacy General Manager Amanda Rohan said RATs needed to be freely and widely available for small businesses to help them plan for workforce shortages, return to work and ongoing recovery.

“CCIQ and chambers across Queensland have for months recommended businesses needed clarity and certainty around access to Rapid Antigen Testing to confidently plan the future of their business and workforce,” Ms Rohan said.

“Now, more than a month after Queensland borders re-opened and the economic impact of the Omicron strain first emerge in the state, RATs are almost impossible to find, afford or secure.

“The state’s small businesses are at the frontline of managing COVID in the workplace, and have been for close to two years. What they need now is for RATs to be freely and widely available to them so they are able to continue getting back to business.

“A lack of availability of RATs is hindering that.

“We know business in other countries have access to free or subsidised RATs and it’s time for Queensland businesses to be afforded the same certainty.”

CCIQ data shows close to 50% of businesses have experienced major or critical constraints on staff availability in the four weeks since state borders re-opened while 85% of Queensland businesses had been unable to maintain normal operational hours or service delivery due to COVID-related impacts in the same period.

One in five businesses said they had experienced a critical constraint to their ability to trade as usual.

Ms Rohan said it was also important the isolation requirements of COVID-positive and close contact staff were consistently reviewed and essential industries were recognised.

“Employees need to get back to work as soon as practicable to allow the economy to get back to business,” Ms Rohan said.

“Where it’s safe, staff need to be getting back into the workforce, especially to limit any further supply chains and logistics disruptions.”

Key figures

  • 50% of businesses surveyed were experiencing major or critical staff shortages.
  • Impacted industries – transport, postage and storage, accommodation and hospitality, construction, administration and support services, arts and recreation
  • 40% said they had major or critical supply chain disruptions
  • Impacted industries – Construction, electricity, gas, water and waste services, wholesale trade, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade
  • 40% said they had a major or critical impact to their ability to maintain operating hours / service requirements
  • Impacted industries – accommodation and hospitality, wholesale trade, transport, postage and storage, healthcare and social assistance

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