Australian companies struggle with workers who are ill or ordered to isolate.
Australia’s Omicron boom leads to staff shortages that disrupt supply chains and hamper the economy’s recovery.
Australian companies are struggling with the growing toll of workers who are ill or who are being ordered to isolate because they have close contact. But the virus also scares customers away from airlines, entertainment and hospitality sectors, which have been plagued by various restrictions over the past two years.
“In essence [small businesses] is in a lockdown … there is little support out there to help them keep their doors open, ”Alexi Boyd, head of the Council of Small Business Organizations, told broadcaster ABC on Wednesday.
Australia’s daily infections on Wednesday continued near records with about 100,000 cases reported so far. Forty-two new deaths were recorded, with New South Wales reporting its worst day of the 21-death pandemic, although seven of them were deaths as far back as September added to the toll after coronal autopsies.
Labor shortages and caution in public places have stifled household spending, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a research note, with spending in early January looking like lock-in conditions in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest cities.
Before the Omicron eruption erupted during the Christmas season, the economy recovered surprisingly strongly. In November, employment levels rose much faster than expected as coronavirus closures were lifted, and Retail sales also rose for a second consecutive month.
Amid pressure on supply chains, supermarket chain Coles Group has again set purchase limits on toilet paper, some meat products and medicines.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the start of an election year criticized his handling of the Omicron outbreak and proposed easing isolation rules for asymptomatic workers ahead of a national cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday.
The head of Melbourne’s Chapel Street Precinct, a local marketing body representing some 2,200 commercial entities, said the controversy over tennis superstar Novak Djokovic had “created the perfect distraction” for Victoria and Morrison’s prime minister Daniel Andrews.
“[The Djokovic case] does not mean nearly enough attention is focused on the absolute decimation of small businesses, ”said general manager Chrissie Maus.
An Australian court on Monday set aside the government’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa over questions about his medical release status, but he still faces the threat of deportation.