Inner West Council has announced it is experiencing staffing shortages due to the surging Omicron outbreak in Sydney.
It comes as NSW reports 25,870 new cases on Tuesday, with hospitalisations rising to 2,186 after 156 more people were admitted for treatment yesterday.
The shortages have impacted several council services, including bulky waste collections, streetscapes, rangers and customer services. The council has said that the affected services are still running, but residents should expect some delays.
Locals responded to the announcement on social media with support for the affected staff, as well as complaints about increased waste on residential streets. The council noted that regular waste collections are not affected by the shortages and are still running as normal.
In addition to COVID-19 impacting staff numbers, Sydney councils have struggled with demand for collections services during the pandemic as household waste skyrockets.
In the City of Sydney, collection tonnage increased 75 per cent between 2018-19 and 2020-21. The council has attributed this increase to both the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing population.
Inner West Council said in TheSydney Morning Herald this month that COVID-19 had slightly increased demand for bulky waste collections, particularly for white goods and mattresses. It has recently changed the service to require residents to book in up to two collections a year, instead of collecting everyone’s rubbish on two set dates.
Staff shortages come as NSW surpassed half a million COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with almost half of all positive cases detected in the past week (229,996).
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said that case numbers were an underestimate as positive rapid antigen tests were not included, with the government set to mandate the reporting of positive rapid tests to Service NSW.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello shared a proposed design of registering positive rapid results on the Service NSW app earlier this week, saying that “the team is working around the clock to get this live very soon”.