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Businesses Urged To Stagger Employee Start Times To Avoid Packed Commute

Businesses are being urged to stagger the times employees start and finish work ahead of a planned easing of Covid-19 restrictions over the coming months.

Authorities have begun planning for the resumption of normal trading with the Commonwealth and state governments readying for the associated influx of people on public transport.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday mapped out the national cabinet’s planned three-step easing of restrictions and set an aspirational July target for the return of most employees to their workplaces.

National Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said authorities will convene a meeting on Monday to discuss the gradual return of commuters to public transport.

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On Friday, the national cabinet agreed on a road map to ease the country out of coronavirus restrictions, but how and when the plan will be implemented in each state and territory will be different.

He said increased numbers on buses and trains would create challenges around maintaining social distancing.

“One of the most important things is to reduce the density,” Professor Murphy said on Sunday.

“Social distancing is not possible when you are crowded. We are very keen, for those who are working from home to continue working from home for the time being.”

Public transport agencies have already introduced Covid-19 safety measures, including increased cleaning of carriages, and Prof Murphy said hand sanitiser would need to be supplied for commuters.

He said the government was looking at ways to spread out passengers.

Commuters pack the train stations in Sydney's CBD late last year. Image: AAP

“But we are also keen for employers and employees to look at staggered start and finish times,” he said.

“I think we have to think about a very different way of people may be starting at work, some starting at seven o’clock, some starting at 10 o’clock and people finishing at different times.

“We have to think differently about that so there is a lot of planning going on in the meantime.

“The message – go back to work. But if it works for you and your employer, continue to work from home.”