Victoria to ease vaccine requirements, close contact iso rules and more

Victoria to ease vaccine requirements, close contact iso rules and more

vaccine requirements
Words by Talia Rinaldo

The Victorian government has confirmed a suite of COVID-19 restrictions will be eased from midnight Friday.

Vaccination, venue check-in and mask requirements will be scrapped in Victoria from this weekend under an easing of restrictions announced this morning.

Health Minister Martin Foley announced the changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, alongside Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, on Wednesday morning citing a “bedrock” of vaccination as the threshold for the changes.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

As part of the changes, which will come into effect from 11:59pm on Friday, Victorians won’t be required to have two vaccine doses or show their vaccination status before entering venues.

The requirement for staff and patrons of venues to check-in using the Services Victoria app will also end and operators will not be required to maintain attendance records or maintain a COVID marshal.

As for masks, they will no longer be required in primary schools, in early childhood settings, or retail settings or events.

For the close contacts of people who test positive to COVID, they will no longer have to quarantine, provided they wear a mask and avoid sensitive settings. They must also conduct five rapid antigen tests over the course of seven days.

Also, people who have had COVID will be exempt from testing or quarantining for 12 weeks, which was previously just eight weeks.

In addition to these changes, visitor restrictions in hospitals will be removed barring mask requirements, with health services able to tailor their own settings based on circumstances, and international travellers who are symptom-free will be recommended, but not required, to undertake PCR or rapid tests on arrival and unvaccinated travellers will no longer need to complete seven days’ quarantine.

Foley announced the changes were the result of strong vaccine coverage, with 94.5 per cent of Victorians over 12 have had two doses, and two-thirds of Victorians aged 16 and over had received three doses.

“This sensible easing of restrictions is only possible because we are one of the most vaccinated societies in the world, with almost 70 per cent of Victorian adults already armed with their third dose,” he said.

“The vaccinated economy kept Victorians safe and businesses open during an unpredictable time when we saw our highest case numbers ever – but now is the right time to set it aside and focus on the highest risk settings.

“Many things that are very effective in driving down transmission will remain strongly recommended. That will keep us protected during winter and help us respond to emerging risks.”

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the changes were significant for all Victorians, with the health policy now moving towards individual discretion.

“We’ve reached that milestone in just five months. The vaccine rates among older Victorians are even higher.

“It will allow us to get back to a better normal, help keep us safe at home, at school and at work while we can still respond to the emerging risks.

“For the remaining restrictions, we’re focusing on areas of highest risk, including to protect those who are most at risk in aged care, disability care settings and in other sensitive settings, where mask-wearing will continue to be required.”

This news comes as Victoria reported 10,628 new COVID cases and 14 further deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 53,518. There are 437 people in hospital, including 34 in intensive care and 12 on ventilators.

You can read more here