SYDNEY went into a harder lockdown over the past weekend in an effort to stop the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, but freight workers are exempt from the orders.

People living in several local government areas were mandated to stay at home. At the time of the announcement the only people exempt from the orders were emergency services and health care workers.

Various industry bodies including Freight & Trade Alliance, the Australian Peak Shippers Association, the Container Transport Alliance and Road Freight NSW leapt to lobby the Transport for NSW and other state government players to allow freight workers from the LGAs to leave home to attend their essential work.

In a communiqué, CTAA said it had pointed out to government officials the possible serious consequences to container freight logistics activities of not allowing freight workers who reside in the affected LGAs to attend work and undertake freight activities outside of the affected LGAs.

“We are extremely pleased therefore, and grateful, that this evening [of Saturday 17 July] TfNSW has issued advice that the NSW government has approved the following workers being allowed to leave the Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown and Liverpool LGAs for critical work: Any person, including a freight worker, who performs work that is critical for the continued operation of food and grocery retailing, warehousing and distribution and transportation,” CTAA said in its communiqué.

The Transport Workers’ Union NSW also welcomed the decision.

TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said the exemption would come as a relief to the more than 20,000 transport workers in south-west Sydney who believed they would not be able to go to work.

“We commend the NSW government for responding quickly to our calls for an exemption; however, the advice to workers and operators is still far too sluggish,” Mr Olsen said.

“Transport workers have kept this country moving throughout the pandemic. They are exhausted but continue to work hard every day because they know how important their work is for our communities. They shouldn’t be stressed out by confusion and chaos. The NSW government must provide clear advice, consult with key industries like transport before making snap decisions and announce that this exemption will stand for any future lockdown measures.”