Self-isolation exemptions for critical workers

Surf Life Saving personnel have been designated as critical workers and will not have to self-isolate from work if they are a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. Photo: Emma Darbin.


WORKERS in designated industries including manufacturing, agriculture, transport, and emergency services have been given an exemption from current public health orders which mandate self-isolation if you become a close contact of a Covid-19 case.

A new exemption to the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 4) 2021 has been made which exempts a broader range of critical workers from the requirement to self-isolate as close contacts for the purpose of attending work only.

Critical workers from certain sectors isolating as close contacts will be permitted to leave self-isolation to attend work if they have no symptoms of COVID-19.

Workers will only be eligible to leave self-isolation if their employer determines that their absence from the workplace poses a high risk of disruption to the delivery of critical services or activities, and they are unable to work from home.

These workers must wear a mask and comply with risk management strategies put in place by their employer, including daily Rapid Antigen Tests.

Any worker who tests positive or who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate.

The new rules apply to critical workers in the following sectors:

  • Utilities which include electricity services, operation of energy systems, gas services, liquid fuels, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and drainage services and waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services)
  • Information and telecommunications
  • Social assistance and welfare services
  • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery services
  • Seaport operations
  • Air and sea freight and logistics
  • The operation of correctional centres and community corrections
  • A person employed by Resilience NSW, a member of Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Volunteer Marine Rescue NSW, or New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association Inc.


The sectors listed above are in addition to the previously announced exemptions for:

  • Agriculture (biosecurity and food safety personnel undertaking critical duties)
  • Manufacturing (production and manufacturing of food, beverages, groceries, cleaning and sanitary products)
  • Transport, postal and warehousing (road and rail freight, logistics, delivery and grocery fulfilment)
  • Emergency services workers and healthcare workers who are necessary for the delivery of critical services and who cannot work from home.


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