Now that the government has announced stage one of social distancing procedures, maybe it’s time we actually do what we’re supposed to: self-isolate.
What feels like eons ago, there was a man who continued working in his casual hospitality job after being told to self-isolate. It brought out all kinds of toxic hate, but also plenty of thoughtful responses to those who can’t self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic.
What’s the bet he didn’t have paid sick leave? https://t.co/LWhUTmKcRP
— David Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeMLC) March 8, 2020
And though the fact is that some people literally cannot afford to take a day off work to self-isolate, it looks like we have to now. Whether we like it, want it, or not.
Will Scott Morrison have anything whatsoever to say to the working people of the country about how he will support them during #coronavirusaustralia, esp casual workers?
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) March 3, 2020
At first, there was a believe that voluntary self-isolation would work. But after hundreds (maybe thousands) flocked to Sydney beaches over the weekend, it’s clear that it’s just not possible.
Casual workers have been stuck between a rock and a hard place when being told to self-isolate, and trying to live. But it looks like it’s only going to become a tighter squeeze as the majority of casual employers are being locked-down with ScoMo’s new phase one self-isolation measures.
What Happens If You Don’t Self-Isolate?
There are actually very hefty consequences should you be penalised for not self-isolating, with huge inconsistencies across different states.
The Tasmanian Health Minister, Sarah Courtney, declared that the Government was considering stronger ways of enforcing isolation after the incident mentioned above.
ABC reported that according to the Tasmanian Public Health Act, the maximum fine for ignoring a public health order is $8,400. And that’s much less than other states. NSW has a maximum penalty of $11,000 and can include six months jail time. Queensland has a maximum fine of $13,345. South Australia has a maximum fine of $25,000. And first place, with a whopping penalty of $50,000 or a 12 month jail term, is Western Australia.
So far, no one’s been charged with these fines or jail-time, but after the Hobart man’s case it seems that the Government is taking things more seriously. And as we’re entering phase one, it’s probably going to get tougher.
“If a person is suspected to have breached the notice they had voluntarily agreed to, we’ll initially work closely with the person to ensure they not only understand their obligations, but also the importance and seriousness of isolating under the current global circumstances,” a Queensland Health spokesperson said, reported by ABC.
Wont those harsh penalties discourage people who are ill getting a test? Isn’t that the opposite of what we want??
— JulieS (@JulieStoddart) March 11, 2020
So Just Stay Inside, Please, As Much As You Can.
You don’t need to go to the beach. You don’t need to go for coffee. You definitely don’t need to go to the movies. Please, just stay inside. Self-isolate. It’s the best shot we’ve got for shortening the duration of this pandemic.
If you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work. But if you’re feeling sick, the federal government have made a comforting announcement with its stimulus package. Casual workers (including gig workers like your Deliveroo cyclist) can apply for a sickness allowance, to soften the blow of self-isolation. And, they’ll be waiving the usual one-week waiting period.
Of course, it is means-tested – based on your income and other assets – but could offer up to $560 for singles without children who find themselves out of work due to illness.
But, that said, it sounds like that only applies to those who are sick, not those who are healthy and are still forced to self-isolate.
Still, it’s likely that your workplace will do all they can to support you during this time. Communicate with them, let them know if you’re going to self-isolate (especially if you’re doing it to look out for someone close to you).
Either way, we have to brace ourselves for the fact that the next six months are going to suck. Big time. Especially for casual workers.
But, please, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, stay inside as much as you can.
Image Sources: Unsplash (Sharon McCutcheon).