UPDATE 1 - NSW COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS - Essential Services

Monday, December 21, 2020
Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) are closely monitoring the current COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney's Northern Beaches and have made contact this morning with representatives from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and the NSW government in terms of the definition of 'essential services' seeking urgent engagement to ensure that government and key supply chain sectors remain 'COVID-SAFE' and operational at this time.


Last night (Sunday 20 December 2020) we received advice from the Department of Agriculture Water and Resources that Biosecurity officers are not currently defined as essential workers under the NSW Government Public Health (COVID-19 Northern Beaches) Order 2020 and that this will have implications for delivery of inspections to facilities within the Northern Beaches Local Government Area (NBLGA).
The immediate impact is anticipated to be minimal with the department identifying a relatively small number of booked appointments between today and Wednesday and are contacting the respective clients.
This advice has however highlighted the current limited scope of 'essential services' in the current Public Health Order and the Essential Service Act 1988 No 41.
While we all remain hopeful that the current measures contain the virus, we now have serious concerns in terms of the sustainability of international trade should the Public Health Order (as currently presented) extends to Greater Sydney and other regions of NSW.
"As outlined in the FTA / APSA formal submission to the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission on 27 March 2020 , our advocacy position remains unchanged.
All importers and exporters must be treated as essential services to be able to receive and dispatch goods.
As well as stevedores, air cargo terminal operators, transport operators, licensed depots, fumigation providers and empty container parks (physical handlers of cargo), it is essential that freight forwarders and customs brokers be included as essential services.
Freight forwarders are playing a critical role in co-ordinating air and sea freight and arranging international transport, chartering aircraft and consolidation of freight. Customs brokerages are trade professionals that play an essential role of managing import compliance requirements and co-ordinating domestic transport.
Biosecurity compliance managed by customs brokers is more important than ever during these challenging times. Standards cannot be compromised as Australia cannot afford an imported pest infestation that would decimate our agriculture industry on top of a pandemic.
The entire international supply chain is fragile at the best of times, removing or limiting the capabilities of one link is not an option."

We have sought urgent engagement on this matter and a willingness to share our recent experiences from the extended Victorian lockdown. We have received a preliminary response that the matter has been referred to the COVID Transport Advisory Group for consideration and further detail will be provided.


A number of states have updated their requirements for travellers from NSW.

For the latest information you are advised to visit the website for the state or territory you will be travelling to, provided in the links below. We advise you keep up to date as requirements could change at short notice.


To keep freight workers and the community safe, TfNSW has advised that their 'freight friendly COVID testing sites' continue to be in operation 24 hours a day 7 days a week at:  
  • Taree Service Centre, Pacific Highway
  • Narrabarba rest area, Princes Highway
  • Forbes Caltex Service Centre, Newell Highway
  • Narrandera Roadhouse, Newell Highway. 
  • Tarcutta truck change-over yard, Sydney Street, off Hume Highway.
While all efforts are being made to ensure freight moves as efficiently as possible, operators are encouraged to plan ahead as some delays may be experienced and to factor this into fatigue management plans.

We will keep members at the cutting edge of implications to international trade on our dedicated Coronavirus Updates page
Paul Zalai -  Director and Co-Founder, FTA / Secretariat, APSA