Cautious approach to office return proves right move as SA lockdown begins

The state was plunged into a six-day lockdown

Cautious approach to office return proves right move as SA lockdown begins

A cautious approach to returning to the office has proved a lifeline for businesses in South Australia as the six-day lockdown begins.

The state was plunged into a “circuit-breaker” shutdown from midnight on Wednesday to stop the spread of a growing COVID-19 cluster.

Businesses braced themselves for the worst as residents were told to stay home and all non-essential workplaces, pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops shut.

HR professionals based in South Australia said the Premier’s lockdown announcement forced businesses to react quickly.

Jessica Ciccozzi, general manager people & capability at QinetiQ, told HRD that the company’s cautious return to work strategy had prepared them for a sudden lockdown.

“We had taken a very conservative approach to return to office-based work over the past months,” she said.

“During this period our direction remained that all employees should continue working at home or remotely unless there were specific meetings, engagements, client requirements or safety or welfare reasons to come into the office.”

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Based in Adelaide, Ciccozzi said the approach had also served QinetiQ employees well during the previous shutdown in Victoria.

For their staff in SA, it enabled HR to make arrangements with employees with minimal disruption and chaos.

She added: “We also recently sent out masks to our national workforce, so everyone was well prepared and were able to spend the afternoon completing work, going to the shops or making arrangements for this period.”

Under the strict lockdown rules, one person per household is permitted to leave the house per day and only for a specific set of circumstances.

Speaking to Today, SA Premier Steven Marshall described the latest cluster as the biggest COVID-19 threat the state had faced.

"We know that being indecisive at a time like this really plays into the hands of this disease,” he said.

"That's why we have taken this stance. We want to have Christmas in South Australia. We want to make sure we stamp out this particularly nasty strain.”

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Currently, 23 confirmed cases have been linked to the Adelaide cluster, with a further 17 suspected cases.

Over 12,000 tests were carried out on Wednesday as part of a testing blitz to trace the outbreak.

With almost 50 locations of potential contamination, the Premier warned the number of infected people linked to the cluster could rise.

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