NSW and Victoria dump close contact isolation mandates and most remaining pandemic rules

NSW and Victoria dump close contact isolation mandates and most remaining pandemic rules

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (via Facebook)

Victoria and New South Wales will ditch most remaining COVID-19 rules this week, with vaccine mandates and check-in requirements to be removed on Friday by the former, and seven-day isolation periods for close contacts dumped from today by the latter.

Both states are moving to an occupational health & safety (OH&S) approach to manage the risk of COVID-19 in specific workplaces, noting that double-dose vaccination rates across the board are high enough now that relaxing remaining rules is possible.

However, Victoria has a 65.8 per cent third dosage rate, and NSW is well below the national third dose average of vaccination at 61.9 per cent.

In Victoria, Minister for Health Martin Foley said with the Omicron wave starting to subside a raft of changes to COVID-19 restrictions will come into effect at 11.59pm on Friday 22 April 2022. These include:

  • Patrons will not be required to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter a venue;
  • Venues will no longer have to check the vaccination status of individual patrons;
  • Check-in via the Services VIC app will no longer be required, and venues will no longer need to have a check-in marshal;
  • Masks will no longer be required in primary schools, early childhood settings, retail, or events of any size;
  • Close contacts will no longer have to quarantine, provided they wear a mask indoors and avoid sensitive settings;
  • All visitor restrictions in hospitals will be removed;
  • Events with 30,000+ attendees will no longer require pre-approval from VIC Health;
  • International travellers that are symptom-free will no longer be required to undertake a PCR test on arrival - instead it will just be recommended; and
  • Unvaccinated international travellers will no longer have to complete seven days of quarantine on arrival into Victoria.

Foley noted that even though close contacts would no longer have to isolate, they will instead be required to complete five rapid antigen tests over the seven-day period they would otherwise have been isolating for.

Further, people who have had COVID will now be exempt from testing and quarantine mandates for 12 weeks, up from two months as was previously permitted.

In addition, it will be up to individuals to notify workplace and social close contacts, and employers will no longer be required to notify individual workplace close contacts - rather they have a general OH&S responsibility to provide advice generally to the workplace.

“These are sensible measures, and they can be taken based on our very high vaccination rates,” Minister Foley said.

“We know that we’ve passed the peak and we’re able to look to this group of sensible measures to take us into a still-challenging winter.

“Only the most important settings remain, like staying home if you have COVID and visitor restrictions in vulnerable settings such as aged care, disability and some hospitals will of course apply those measures.”

Meanwhile, NSW has eased most remaining restrictions as of today, including scrapping the seven day isolation period for close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he hoped to announce the removal of hotel quarantine soon as the State Government moves to an OH&S perspective in terms of managing the virus.

In addition, green dots on public transport that help manage social distancing will be removed.

“This is not the end of the pandemic,” Premier Perrottet said.

“We will always tailor our restrictions to the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Today is a day where the people of New South Wales can be incredibly proud.”

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