Victoria’s COVID restrictions to ease as hospitalisation and infection numbers fall

Victoria’s COVID restrictions to ease as hospitalisation and infection numbers fall

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (via Facebook).

The Victorian Government will ease COVID-19 restrictions from 6pm tomorrow in line with decreasing hospitalisation and infection numbers, and as more than half of the state’s eligible population has received three doses of a vaccine.

Density limits will increase, dancefloors will return and QR code check-in requirements will be ditched in some settings at 6pm Friday, 18 February.

“We always said these measures wouldn’t be in place for a minute longer than they are needed, and with hospitalisation numbers decreasing and less pressure on our health system, now is a sensible time to make changes,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has been doing the right thing, helping to reduce the impact of this virus on the community, our healthcare system and our economy.”

As part of new pandemic orders to be signed by the Minister for Health, density limits of one person per two square meters in place at hospitality and entertainment venues will be removed. Indoor dancefloors at these venues can also re-open.

Under the orders, QR code check-in requirements will no longer be in place at retail venues, schools (including childcare and early childhood) and for employees at many workplaces. QR code check-in and vaccination check requirements will remain in all ‘vaccinated economy’ settings such as hospitality and entertainment venues.

Further, mandatory surveillance testing requirements for key industries including meat processing will be scrapped, in favour of the government moving to make testing ‘recommended-only’.

Requirements for hospital worker ‘bubbles’ will also be removed, but health services may still implement them at their discretion.

Small adjustments will also occur to border settings for international arrivals, who will no longer be required to obtain an international arrivals permit through Service Victoria. The 14-day hotel quarantine period for international visitors and aircrew who aren’t fully vaccinated or medically exempt will reduce to seven days.

The changes come in light of increased vaccination rates in Victoria, alongside decreased hospitalisation and infection numbers.

When Victoria’s density quotient restrictions were first announced on 6 January, the third dose vaccination rate for Victorians aged 16 and over was only 12.7 per cent, compared to 52.2 per cent today. When the dancefloor closure was announced on 10 January, 818 Victorians were in hospital with COVID-19, compared to 401 today.

“These are safe and sensible measures which balance the need to support our health system with the benefits of easing restrictions across a range of settings,” Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley said.

“Changes to QR code requirements will still support our focus on the highest-risk settings most likely to generate super-spreader events – and we will keep reviewing the system over time in line with the epidemiological situation.”

Victoria reported 14 deaths from COVID-19 today, and 8,501 new cases.

Updated at 12.58pm AEDT on 17 February 2022.

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