Otago University professor Michael Baker has forecasted an increase in staff sickness if the Government goes ahead with its current plan of opening the borders. The opening of borders combined with the arrival of the winter season is expected to increase the rate of respiratory infections among employees amounting to high levels of absenteeism for months.
“If the borders are open, we would be expecting a more severe flu season and the other respiratory infections that dominate in winter.”
Baker had listed a number of preventive measures to hinder the rapid spread of the virus. According to him, the best measure is to delay the opening of the border while vaccinating children and giving as many New Zealanders as possible their booster shot. For businesses, those with customer-facing roles and staff who work from the office should be mandatorily vaccinated extending to booster shots. Both Baker and BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope agree on the importance of access to rapid antigen tests to manage the fall-out that companies are likely to face. Another advice by Baker involved businesses dividing the staff who performed critical functions into two teams and keeping them separate to maintain business continuity.
In other parts of the world, the rapid spread of Omicron has begun playing havoc in businesses across Europe, the United States and Asia. Throughout Britain and in other parts of Europe, there has been a drastic decrease in business at restaurants, pubs, event venues and stores. Governments have been announcing financial aid for affected industries in Europe.
Employment lawyer Barbara Buckett of BuckettLaw suggested businesses to not undermine the variant urging them to require staff with COVID-like symptoms to get tested.