Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed just how many people are expected to be absent from work at any one time due to Omicron.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a range of workers will have relaxed isolation rules, as new modelling has revealed just how many people are expected to be absent from work due to Omicron.

Speaking at a press conference at Parliament House on Thursday following a lengthy national cabinet meeting, Mr Morrison said it was a “delicate balance” in protecting hospitals and keeping people in work.

He said they had been shown Treasury modelling which predicted Australia would be grappling with up to 10 per cent of its workforce being absent due to Omicron at any one time.

The Prime Minister said if schools weren’t open it could add an additional 5 per cent to that tally.

“The more you try to protect your hospital system, the more people you are taking out of work, which disrupts supply chains,” Mr Morrison said.

“This is a constant daily process of balancing the need to keep people at work and to protect our hospitals.

“And that is why it changes almost daily. Because this balance changes daily.”

Mr Morrison said that it had been agreed to allow more workers to avoid isolating if they were a close contact, didn’t have symptoms and returned a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result.

“The most immediate extension to that is to all transport, freight and logistics employees,” he said.

The other sectors include:

– healthcare

– emergency services

– law enforcement

– correctional services

– energy resources

– water

– waste management

– food and beverage supplies

– telecommunication, data, broadcasting and media

– education and childcare

Mr Morrison said it would not extend to hospitality.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that international students would have the 40-hour-per-fortnight cap on how long they are allowed to work removed in affected sectors.

He said that free RATs would start to be given to concession card holders from January 24, after the date was finally locked in with pharmacies.

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